Two elegant actresses glide onto stage before transforming into hideous manikins, in a wordless parable of life under the repressive Czechoslovak communist regime. I know, Antiwords doesn’t sound like a laugh a minute, but it is.

It’s apposite that this wonderful show is at Summerhall, the venue that keeps the avant-garde spirit of the Fringe alive. The young house is packed, and I’d love to know how many have a clue about dissident 60’s playwright Vaclav Havel whose work is all about alienation, oppression, and the survival of the human spirit. I did wonder how that would come across in a mute piece of physical theatre?

I needn’t have worried. The Spitfire Company may have chucked out most of Havel’s dialogue, but they’ve kept two essential elements: absurd humour and beer. The actresses brilliantly embody Havel’s alter-ego Vanek and the increasingly drunken brew master, seamlessly swapping the role of bully and victim as they down bottle after bottle of Pilsner Urquell. It’s a funny, clever show that will not only prompt you to muse on the eternal struggle against oppression, but will also teach an indispensible phrase in Czech: mají pivo (have a beer)!

Words: Tim Maguire

Antiwords, Summerhall 10–30 August (not 17, 24), 8.25pm

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