This auteur-style production by its two protagonists, Anežka Kubátová and Jiří Jelínek, describes the life of a puppy and life with a puppy in a playful, condensed and imaginative form. References to Karel Čapek’s life and work are interwoven with the moving situation of two aging dog-lovers. This adaptation of Čapek’s popular story about the life of a fox terrier puppy forms part of a project called Čapek on a String, spanning several years; in addition to Dášenka, the theatre has staged Čapek’s parable The Insect Play, Hordubal and Awkward Torture, a play based on his short stories.
About the director of the play "Dášeňka or Dog Tricks – Woof!": Jiří Jelínek (1973) – A representative of auteur-style theatre who, as well as producing auteur texts, also directs, creates sets and acts. He is the founder of the distinguished Czech puppet company Dno Hradec Králové, in which he has been active for over ten years. After a few years he and other members of the company started to work with Vladimír Morávek in the Klicpera Theatre in Hradec Králové, where he acted and directed. Together with Morávek he then went to Brno to the Goose on a String Theatre, leaving after four years to go freelance. He works with the Divadlo Minor, the Reduta Theatre, the Tramtárie Theatre and Studio Ypsilon. In terms of content, his productions are often attempts at demythification, to look at something from the other side. He strips bare all kinds of apparently incontrovertible truths, myths and legends, as well as fashion idols, icons and the mannerisms and stereotypes of music, theatre and life. Jelínek typically uses wordplay based on the paradoxes that arise from multiple meanings of words, from homonyms and words that sound similar to each other. Grotesque elements are ever-present, creating an impression of non-committal lightness, but in reality the best always contain an attempt to precisely formulate a theme that is often of a serious or tragic nature (Cyrano, Hamlet, Richard 3., Paris from Romeo and Juliet…, but also Bye – Bye, Little Donkey, Roundthetable…). A further typical characteristic of his productions is a rich web of theatrical, literary, musical and artistic elements, mostly following the compositional principle of the revue.
This is an admirably communicative story that really does entertain everybody. The more experienced will appreciate the playful references to Čapek’s life and to other world-famous works by one of the seven Czechs to have been nominated for a Nobel prize for literature. The sparks between the writer and the actor are also lightly handled. It all takes place in nice dog sets and costumes, with songs. Lively, fresh, witty, playful and wise. And an hour long.
J. P. Kříž, www.novinky.cz