You may recall that we attended a Black Light Theatre presentation in Prague. Our theatre critic, Debbie, provides us with a review of the production. (She reserves her talent for such matters of importance.)
Black light techniques were first used minimally in ancient China to enhance artistic productions, but it was the Czechs who perfected the art and introduced Black Light Theatre. The Czechs thought that a different kind of production was needed to trigger imagination (probably an antidote to all that ancient classical music and jazz). By chance, we saw a black light theatre production advertised in Prague – “Yellow Submarine or a Small Story From the Great Time of the Beatles”. Our favourite, the Beatles! In black light! We just had to go. We scurried to the ticket outlet and laid out 550 Czech kroner each, about $30.00 each.
Picture a huge packed auditorium with hundreds of plush seats, one Beatles hit after another, amazing light and sound effects – Utopia! We ate supper early in order to be the first ones at the gate wanting to choose the best seats but not in the first four rows as that was known to diminish the artistic effects.
We entered the single wooden door . . . picture a dark little theatre with a total of 120 seats (wooden chairs) with an audience totalling 17 people, all tourists. Picture dusty puppets on the walls and a crumpled curtain with holes in it. The production began with a rather lengthy slide show of the Beatles before the combination of floating yellow submarines and big floating lips, two main characters acting and dancing, a backup ensemble of loosely termed ‘dancers’, about five Beatles hits, and some strange artistic effects. The show progressed in story format, starting with an elderly couple playing some LP’s and whirling back in time to the origin of the Beatles and time travelling through the main historic occurrences of the Beatles’ reign. At one point, Bev burst out laughing and commented that this was one of our stranger adventures, not to mention the skill, or lack thereof, of the backup dancers. Larry became quite appalled and reminded us that “all you need is love.”
Barely one and a half hours later, including a 15 minute intermission, we exited the theatre, a little bewildered. Was that an amateur money grabbing performance or was that sheer brilliance? After ruminating on it for awhile, we decided that the two main actors were very good, the backup dancers were amateur, the black light effects were great, and some of the techniques such as John Lennon’s death were brilliant. The whole production certainly made us think and forced us to use our imagination to reveal the story lines behind the strange portrayals.
We do not regret our black light experience and it certainly achieved the original Czech aim of triggering the imagination. My view is that our pre-conception was vastly different than reality, and I think we would get a lot more from the production if we were to watch it again.