No one would ever expect that big brown papier-mâché heads and lots of alcohol go together, but seemingly they are perfect partners. Antiwords is part of a Czech Showcase at the Fringe this year and is influenced by the absurdist playwright Václav Havel.
Antiwords begins with two performers walking onstage, each holding an over-sized papier-mâché head. They then each take a bottle of beer, put it between their legs, open the bottle, pour it into a beer glass and the drinking begins. The audience cringes, cheers and laughs as the performers down the alcohol. To drink the beer the actors have to lift the masks before they can put the beer glasses to their mouths. Here the audience gets a glimpse of the performers bloated faces and you can almost feel the heartburn as another bottle is consumed.
There is a purpose behind this drinking. The heads are masculine and the female performers take on the loud, aggressive and chauvinist nature of male bonding that can happen over a pint of beer. There is no spoken dialogue throughout the performance. However an audio recording of a Czech male voice is played at various segments of the show. A written English translation is projected behind the actors. The words underline the masculine theme, as the large heads ask one another to “Have a Beer!”.
Antiwords is an absurd show which looks at alcoholism, male bonding and masculine politics. It does fire the point home with repetition and typical drunken behaviour, which at times feels a bit laborious. It is an interesting show and one worth seeing if you would like to experience a unique perspective on the ritual of masculine bonding told through the method of absurdist theatre. Václav Havel would be proud.