Benefit – Everyone Rescues an African (Ingrid Lausund):
A production by a young director who has gained much critical acclaim in recent years. The play, by a contemporary German playwright, portrays the flip side of charity events in a deliberately “politically incorrect” way. Pácl stages it as a cabaret with musical numbers, on the boundary of black humour. His Benefit looks at things that are usually taboo, and also serves as a sharp reminder that the false, artificial and ridiculous features that charitable events sometimes take on should not hide the fact that they are genuinely needed.
"Benefit – Everyone Rescues an African – This play by actor, director and playwright Ingrid Lausund is about a fictitious charitable project; a tragicomedy about global responsibility, it takes the form of a rehearsal for a benefit evening. Against this framework, the author looks at issues including the meaning of aid, the relationship of one person to others, and the probing of conscience. Lausund is also not afraid to touch the borders of incorrectness, relativising, through irony and humour, the philosophy of Western civilisation.
Benefit is really a morality play – although it never rebukes, it just worms its way under the skin. With self-irony, black humour, harshness and courage it touches on things that are usually taboo. The ambiguous and disturbing mixture of emotions provoked by this charity cabaret, with its excellent musical numbers, is difficult to shake off. Long after it ends, you can still see the “professionally” changing face of Iva Pazderková, and you realise how fine a line there is between authentic reaction and social mask. How easily an appeal to sympathy can change into self-caricature."
(by Marie Reslová, Hospodářské noviny)
"Under Pácl’s direction, the five young actors wittily capture the backstage, authentic atmosphere of a rehearsal for a benefit evening, with which they are trying to raise money to build a school in Ethiopia. Pácl is not afraid to focus on the insincere, superficial, artificial elements of this sort of event. Never, however, does he descend into caricature or mere parody. This is because he knows how to move precisely on the border of black humour and the reality that reminds us that hunger and poverty are not in fact clichés in part of the world. Moreover, despite his emphasis on the comic angle, Pácl definitely does not present us with a one-dimensional appeal."
(by Jana Paterová, Lidové noviny)
"Lausund is the sort of playwright who maps out, with extreme clear-sightedness, our contemporary life in all its ambiguity. After Slipped Disc and Hystericon, Benefit – Everyone Rescues an African is her third play to have been seen in the Czech Republic. The principle of theatre in theatre is not unusual; nevertheless, the combination of the theatrical principle with a concrete charitable event is definitely new. The uncommon form makes an appeal to audiences, who after the production should find themselves making voluntary contributions to charity."
(by Jana Soprová, Český rozhlas)
"Director Štěpán Pácl and the actors throw themselves, with enchanting self-reflection, into a witty striptease of the unique phenomenon that is the actor’s ego (…). For all the fun that is poked with gusto at the narcissism of actors, however, the deeper meaning and the apparent meaning of the whole charade is not lost. This is the essentially unsolvable contradiction between the real problems of the third world, and the impossibility of finding an effective solution to them. Is it better to push aside this contradiction cynically, or to buy ourselves pardons and do what little we can to help?"
(by Richard Erml, Divadelní noviny)
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