Prague Fringe returns for its’ 22nd season at the end of this month, bringing a bountiful barrage of intrepid theatre, melodic music, and creative fun to the backrooms of bars and basement theatres of the Czech Capital. Between Monday 22nd and Saturday 27th May 2023, those who venture to the cobbled throngs of King Charles (no, not that one), Franz Kafka and Antonín Dvořák can feast on some of the very best of independent performance on the Continent.
For a while, we wondered if we’d get the chance to again see the city’s Fringe Festival return in full splendour. Festival Director Steve Gove had put out a note in September last year advising that “bluntly put, the 21st year of Prague Fringe may well be the last”. Luckily for audiences, the 22nd Festival arrives to the city in full technicolour at the end of the month. With prices rising exponentially elsewhere, Prague Fringe have somehow managed to freeze all ticket prices at a fixed rate of 220 Kč for General Admission (just over 9 Euros, and a little under £9 at time of writing). In a world where the arts feels ever out of reach for many, we are lucky to have a stalwart firebrand organisation operating an international festival in the heart of Europe.
Attendees can expect to be dazzled by the range of independent, creative and exciting artistic work on display. Taking a typically Fringe ‘something for everyone’ approach to programming, you can bare witness to a merry multitude of genres, themes and styles of show. For the promise of hard-hitting storytelling, we recommend you take a look at Sinéad O’Brien and Octopus Soup Theatre’s Hero/Banloach, blending Irish mythology and themes of addiction and struggles with mental health. Alternatively, check out staunch Fringe performer Pip Utton’s one-person take on Dickens‘ life and works.
For a touch of international theatre, take a look at Italian company SAGAPO APS’ look at rife resistance and curious oddballs in Argentina in La Citta Senza Nome (The City With No Name). For something timely and pertinent, there can be little more intriguing than ProEnglish Theatre of Ukraine’s L_UKR_ECE. In tow, check out some international dark comedy – SKELF Theatre Co. bring a touch of the Glasgow tenement flat to Czechia with The Seagull (Not That One). Or face the comedy in mortality with Dublin-based Acting Out’s one-woman cancer journey The Death of Me.
The UK’s comedy circuit is out in force at the Festival this year, offering a diverse range of themes covering race, nationality, privilege and cultural difference. Sajeela Kershi offers an ever-edgy and hopefully insightful delve into the UK’s obsession with free speech, asking us all why we care so much while in Afghanistan and Iran Women’s rights are decimated. Check out Free Speech and Rah-Rah Skirts if that takes your interest. Kuan-wen brings a touch of Taiwan and a comedic journey of migration in Formosa.
Queer work takes centre-stage too, with Les Kurkendaal-Barrett taking on the story of the U.S’ first recorded Queer activist and “Queen of Drag” in The Real Black Swann. Meanwhile, The Hairy Godmothers promise to shatter our childhood dreams with Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody. Exploring sex and queerness, abortion rights and family, there’s perhaps nought more thematically bold in the programme than Crave Productions’ new work At Birth. Whatever you choose to see, it seems there’s brave work abound in the programme of the 22nd Prague Fringe.
And good news! For the first time ever, Binge Fringe Magazine will be live and on-the-ground in Prague for the entire duration of the festival. With five reviewers and buckets of pilsner-provided energy, there perhaps isn’t a better place on Earth for us to end up pursuing our ethos – Drink Responsibly, Make Art Irresponsibly. See you there? Maybe?
Disclaimer: This editorial piece promotes several shows programmed for Prague Fringe 2023 on the basis of their show listing and its’ applicability to Binge Fringe’s mission to platform unheard voices and visit unseen corners. We cannot vouch for the quality of these shows (until we’ve seen them of course!).