Svandovo Divadlo

By John Reality, Cambodia, June 2011

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Numbered among the best established repertory theatre troupes featuring English-language accessible performances in Prague are the dedicated players at Svandovo Divadlo in the city's Smichov district. The company presents mainly Czech-language productions featuring English subtitles in two well appointed performance spaces: the main hall, which seats 300, and a smaller studio space that seats approximately 60. The offerings at Svandovo include an ongoing repertoire of previously established productions, as well as the occasional premiere (numbering from two to five new full-length plays each season).

The current season includes a number of admirable productions in regular rotation. Among these are the company's Czech translation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, a translation of Bård Breien's noteworthy black comedy, The Art of Negative Thinking (adapted from the acclaimed film of the same name), Mariusz Szczygiel's Gottland, and Radka Denemarková's examination of the complex residual effects of Nazi occupation, Money From Hitler, all of which feature English subtitles.

One production to avoid is the company's earnestly staged version of a script authored by the infamous Danish film director Lars von Trier, The Boss of it All. Informed critical opinion has it that the company's efforts are wasted on a typically banal, agit-prop piece of writing by a director widely known for inspiring equal parts devotion and revulsion in moviegoers. 

In happier news, the company's interpretation of Henrik Ibsen's classic, Hedda Gabler, comes highly recommended. Martin Pechlát gives a memorable performance in the role of Ejlert Lovborg, and Jana Stryková is devastating (and mesmerizing) in the title role. Visitors to the city interested in quality local theatre should sidestep the notoriously bad “black light” theaters in the tourist district and make their way across the Vlatava to Svandovo Divadlo. Advanced tickets are advisable, as the better shows typically sell out.

Photo courtesy of Svandovo Divadlo.

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