JAPES Simon Gray (1936–2008), ‘the most overlooked of famous British playwrights’, wrote the intimate, highly autobiographical drama Japes as his ‘swan song’ towards the end of his life. In this deeply personal play, the ailing and aging Gray seeks atonement for the death of his younger brother (caused by alcoholism) and deals with his lifelong addictions and self-destructive tendencies, his literary career, his irredeemable past, as well as the ever-faster passage of time. This family saga for four characters and three actors (the mother and daughter are played by one actress) covers the fatal love triangle of two writer brothers and a painfully hesitant woman over the span of almost thirty years. Throughout the story, the actors recite passages from Gray’s favourite poems, sprinkling the lyrical poetry of the first generation of British Romantics (such as William Wordsworth) and the ambiguous poems of Thomas Stearns Eliot.
The Ungelt production of Gray’s Japes brings back to the stage the theatre’s characteristic qualities: a breathtaking experience of impeccable interplay between the actors, as well as its unique character. The audience will indeed be treated to an exceptional performance.
– RADMILA HRDINOVÁ, Právo
The actors delve deep into the intimate details of their characters, where every blink of the eye, tic, tiny hand gesture, or the way of walking conveys meaning. The audience can easily identify with the characters, sense their inner demons, and feel the tragic undercurrents of love tinged with a hint of hatred in various forms (both in the relationship between the two brothers and within the love triangle).
– JANA SOPROVÁ, Divadelní noviny
Marek Němec portrays Jason, an alcoholic who – although far less successful than his brother – is a charismatic and naturally clever character. Igor Orozovič plays his older brother Michael, whose ambitious nature and urge to have everything squared away is revealed through restrained and somewhat stiff gestures and ‘harsh’ muttered words. Veronika Khek Kubařová suggestively transforms in age and personality in the role of the lover/wife Anita and her daughter Wendy, respectively.
– JOSEF CHUCHMA, ČT art
PAVEL ONDRUCH (1984) After studying acting at JAMU in Brno (with guest performances at the National Theatre in Brno, among others) and directing at DAMU in Prague, he joined as a director the Český Těšín Theatre, where he prepared 13 productions for both the Czech and Polish companies (including Manon Lescaut by Nezval, The Makropulos Affair by Čapek, The Matchmaker by Wilder and The Lady from the Sea by Ibsen). It was during this time that he collaborated with the Ungelt Theatre, where he directed the musical Desire Called Einodis, among other plays. He was also a guest at the Antonín Dvořák Theatre in Příbram, the East Bohemian Theatre in Pardubice, the Na Prádle Theatre in Prague, the Polárka Theatre in Brno as well as a regular guest at the Most City Theatre, where he staged several foreign and Czech musicals (Cabaret, Singing in the Rain, Ballad for a Bandit).
UNGELT THEATRE This Prague theatre was founded and opened by Milan Hein in 1995. It is a small stage for less than a hundred people located in an old vaulted cellar, focusing on plays for three actors at most. Milan Hein thus wished to follow the tradition of drama theatre where the story is narrated solely through the actors’ concentrated performance, without relying on any external stage effects. That is why Milan Hein sought the collaboration of the actress Alena Vránová, who had starred and won the Thalia Award for her role as Gertrude in the groundbreaking production of Wild Spring, directed by Ladislav Smoček, and who helped to define Ungelt’s distinctive acting and directing style, based on minutiae of acting and a thorough reading of dramatic texts. During the almost thirty years of its existence, four actors of the Ungelt Theatre won the Thalia Award (Alena Vránová, as mentioned above, and Marta Kubišová, Vilma Cibulková and Richard Krajčo). Over the years, Ungelt has earned reputation as theatre presenting primarily British and American drama. In 2018, Pavel Ondruch became the artistic director of Ungelt. Together with Milan Hein, they keep the actor-oriented approach, but place even more emphasis on the dramatic text, mainly choosing plays that have not yet been staged in the Czech Republic. Ungelt presented its productions The Kingfisher (2008), A Steady Rain (2013) and Skylight (2018) at the Divadlo festival in the past years.