- DIRECTOR: Becka McFadden
- TRANSLATED by: Eva Daníčkova
- CAST: Lara Parmiani, Mark Ota, Daiva Domynika. Special guest Arnost Goldflam.
★★★★★ Raw edged and relevant (London Pub Theatres)★★★★ Confident theatrical imagination (A Younger Theatre)★★★★ Very funny and sophisticated (West End Wilma)
Prague, 2011. Champion poker player Jana travels the world in style. But behind her success lie dark secrets. Her past infatuation with Václav Havel. Her father’s letters from Africa. Her troubled relationship with her daughter Pavlína… On the eve Havel’s funeral, when Jana returns from Tokyo to find Pavlína in the company of Viktor, a young man with political ambitions of his own, an embarrassing family dinner turns into a dangerous game escalating first in sex, then in violence and, eventually, in farce. Is Pavlína President Havel’s daughter? What is Viktor really after? Is there still room for icons in our cynical world?
Numerous flashbacks interrupt the main action. Jana’s father, Franta, appears on a massive video above her head, a ghost weighing on her conscience. We hear songs from 1989, images of the revolution, of Havel’s triumph, of the Nigerian oil rigs where Franta is working, getting progressively sicker because of the fumes. Jana hates the memories and yet, like a modern Lady M, she can’t get rid of them.
Poker face isn’t a gritty, political drama. In Peter Kolečko’s world, the absurd is always lurking round the corner, heroes show their feet of clay and tragedy keeps turning into farce. Becka McFadden’s direction embraces the text’s ambiguity and creates a world in which nothing is what it seems. Characters bluff and double bluff, even objects can’t be trusted: paper garlands become sushi to feast on. Guns become bananas. And in a universe where meaningful relationships are impossible, sex is recreated with a physical theatre routine in which Jana and Viktor jump rhythmically from the two corners of the room.
Petr Kolečko is one of the most successful Czech screenwriters and playwrights of his generation. By the age of 22 he had his first play, Britney Goes to Heaven, produced at the Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava, translated into English and Polish, and presented as a staged reading at the Immigrants’ Theatre Project in New York. In 2008, he took part in the Royal Court’s international playwrights’ residence. He had a particularly successful seven-year stint as the artistic director of Prague’s A Studio Rubín, devoted entirely to contemporary Czech theatre. His plays have been staged by major theatres in the Czech Republic, and translated into English, French, Spanish, German, Romanian, Polish and Slovak. For TV, he wrote the critically-acclaimed sitcom The Fourth Star (Čtvrtá hvězda). Two of his plays, Icing (Zakázané uvolnění) and Fifty (Padesátka) have been adapted as feature films.
Poker Face was written in 2012 as part of Generation Icons, a European project exploring cultural identity and generational change. The main coordinator was Divadlo LETÍ, in Prague, and the co-organizers were GUnaGU Theatre, Bratislava, Slovakia Wiener Worstaetten, Vienna, Austria, the Arts and Theatre Institute, Prague, Czech Republic and the HaDivadlo Theatre Brno, Czech Republic. The project blended three countries, three generations of authors, three original plays, and three directors for a direct confrontation between individual nationalities, generations and cultural contexts. The texts generated during the process, although different in form, all reflected the current social-political and economic environment. Poker Face and the Slovak Kill Hill ™, by Villam Klimáček were about money, games and the disillusionment which ensued the arrival of the capitalism in Eastern Europe. iPlay by Bernard Studler was a collage where poetry, humour, and politics blended. LegalAliens became involved in Generation Icons in 2013 when it was asked by Divadlo LETÍ to be their UK partner,
Poker Face premiered at the KINGS HEAD THEATRE, London, in October 2016. 2017 dates including Trieste TACT Festival, Voila! Europe and Milan’s PACTA Salone
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