Thursday, January 19,2012: Fantastic Reality

The Talking Book from Čarokraj

Editorial: Fantastic Reality

Strange things happen when you are a writer on the arts: sometimes the performances you see stick in your mind, consciously or unconsciously, and snatches of some of these performances get mixed in together with the unreality of your “real” life.

That describes my day today – everyday chores and tasks mixed up with the strong images I’m still carrying around from last Sunday afternoon’s premiere performance of Čarokraj (Enchantia) on the National Theatre stage.

It started with my morning cup of tea and my mulling over the charming opera for children, a story of the conflict between the powerful Cockatrices and the helpless denizens living in peace under the sea. The Cockatrices start to censor and rewrite the pages of their legal and cultural guide, the Talking Book, to suit them. It’s a subtle story of censorship and the abuse of power.

And then I switch on the computer to find that Wikipedia has “gone dark” today to protest Congress’ proposed changes for the US lawbooks, that could lead to curtailed internet freedom of speech.

Like in a dream, the images in Čarokraj are just right in theory, and hard to forget in reality.

This afternoon I was sent to write a review of the new Martin Scorsese film Hugo. It’s a fast-paced adventure romp with many themes; one of them is how much fun early film-making used to be when the costumes and props had to be manufactured out of hard goods and imagination, not by pressing buttons on computer keyboards.

There we sat, a cinema-complex roomful of journalists, watching a film loaded with special effects, all of us wearing googly red-and-green lensed 3D glasses. If you didn’t accede to wearing the low-tech glasses, you literally wouldn’t be able to watch the high-tech film.

And I couldn’t help but think once more of Čarokraj. True, it does employ some video and other special effects, but only in a subtle way to support the incredibly imaginative but real costumes, makeup, and sets.

You should go to see Čarokraj to enjoy a charming story and a fabulous production. But don’t be surprised if you catch yourself days later seeing a connection between its fantasy and your reality. — oo

– Mary Matz, Editor

Photo Credits: Irena Vodaková, The National Theatre

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