Having lived in Prague for four months, the idea of a Czech pub/circus had a great deal of nostalgic attraction for me. I was not disappointed, as the laid back atmosphere and casual attitude to the consumption of alcohol, along with a very Czech sense of quietly absurd humour pervaded even the most spectacular sequences. We begin with the barman staring lovingly into the bubbles of his beer for the full length of the audience’s extended (the house is nearly full) entrance before downing it and noticing us as the other patrons gradually wake up. He then tries to convince the audience to go home as he’s finished serving, but ends up serving beer regardless, to audience and performers alike.
The barman/clown works brilliantly to tie routines together without falling into stereotypes of drunkenness or relying on the spectacular nature of their execution. The live band perform well, and are incorporated well into the atmosphere and general absurdity - the singer deserves a special mention, using a couple of mics with different effects, seemingly improvising and burbling along like a saxophone when necessary, or breaking into rhythmical trills to support more high energy scenes.
While almost all of the routines are theatrically well constructed, the trampoline that takes up the entire back of the stage can seem too much like a simple set of circus tricks, done for the spectacle only. A couple of brief wushu-style sequences don’t come off so well, and the puppetry is hilarious rather than particularly skillful, but these are all saved by the antics and reactions of the ensemble. This is a very witty and theatrical circus, and while they could afford to lose the trampoline act in favour of more acts grounded in the pub’s atmosphere, the whole thing comes off brilliantly. My favourite piece of the fringe so far.
La Putyka is on from 19-27th August, 20.35, at Zoo Southside.