The V + W Correspondence – The correspondence between Jiří Voskovec and Jan Werich is a potent source of evidence regarding the lives of two exceptional people during a difficult time. The letters that the two legendary creators of the Liberated Theatre wrote to each other when their paths went in different directions after February 1948 (Voskovec deciding to return to exile, Werich remaining in Czechoslovakia) are stunning testimony not only to their originality and artistic maturity, but also shed light on the lives of these significant figures in a bipolar world, full of iron curtains and cold wars. The letters, which in the case of Jiří Voskovec represent the pinnacle of his post-war literary production, are an invaluable record of the intellectual world of V + W. "The form of shorthand, short connections, theatrical references, private codes, as well as brilliant stylisation and unbelievable forms of address and signatures" – as the correspondence has been appositely described. The V + W Correspondence shows this legendary couple from a non-traditional point of view: as two elderly, lonely men, with love affairs, everyday problems and declining health. The production was nominated for a number of theatre awards, gaining the Annual Award of the Czech Literary Fund Foundation in the field of theatre and radio.
About the director of the play "The V+W Correspondence: Jan Mikulášek (b. 1978) – Mikulášek comes from a family with a wealth of artistic roots. Previously the artistic head of the Brno children's theatre Polárka and Ostrava's Petr Bezruč Theatre, he is currently a freelance director. He works regularly with the National Theatre of Moravia-Silesia, the Petr Bezruč Theatre, the Reduta Theatre, the Goose on a String Theatre and the Theatre in Dlouhá. Mikulášek's direction is notably influenced by film approaches – in addition to having directed a number of film adaptations, he also uses elements of film language on stage, involving editing, detail, musical contrapposto and parallel plot development. His second major source of inspiration is fine art, from which he takes an emphasis on image composition and lighting. Well-versed in genres, he inclines towards grotesque stylisation, finding space for it even in major dramas. While it is hard to find an all-permeating theme in his direction, since his choice of plays includes both classic dramas (Macbeth, Hamlet, Hedda Gabler, Blood Wedding, Three Sisters) and popular pieces (Wild At Heart, Four Murders Are Enough, Darling, The Phantom of Morrisville) he nevertheless shows a characteristically pessimistic, hopeless view of the world. Despite the liveliness and exaggeration present in his productions, they are permeated with melancholy and loss of illusion.
This carefully-chosen selection from the correspondence of a creative duo split asunder by fate is directed by Jan Mikulášek with exceptional directorial invention. Their personal and artistic lives, plus the hint of a picture of a divided world, provide an opportunity for remarkable creations by actors Václav Vašák (Voskovec), Jiří Vyorálek (Werich) and Gabriela Mikulková (Werich's wife Zdena).
Mikulášek and Viceníková are not overly reverent in their handling of Werich's demotic image. The famous saying of Werich's – God knows whether he ever actually said it – that, shorn of its context, adorned every other public bar during the 1970s, "Since you're alive, you should make sure you are," is played as a solo in front of an open door three times. Each time, applause comes from behind the door, and each time Jiří Vyorálek as Werich sticks his backside through the door. If Werich should happen to be following the sketch from heaven, he would surely be pleased.
Jan Kolář, Divadelní noviny
Mikulášek's inventive work, precise down to the last detail, is not only enjoyed by the generation who had V + W engraved in their hearts, whether from records or Frič's film comedies. The Reduta's latest play is not "just" a historical document, but also a bitter reminder of a bipolar world divided by an iron curtain. In its conclusion, above all, it becomes a raw but exceptional exploration of the bitter ends of two men, whom fate would not allow to be either together or apart.
Luboš Mareček, MF DNES