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The trials and tribulations of visiting Kafka's empty castle

Joyful performance in empty house draws big laughs, many questions

Posted: September 26, 2012

By André Crous - Staff Writer | Comments (0) | Post comment

The trials and tribulations of visiting Kafka's empty castle

Walter Novak

Too Quiet a Nose opens with wig-wearing individuals peering out in silence over a plastic-covered courtyard, and the leads start singing amid a general bewilderment about the meaning of it all.

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Franz Kafka isn't known for his straight-up comedy, but a very joyful bunch of actors is using the work of the writer of darkness to draw big laughs from the visitors they guide through an empty house on Nekázanka street, and will do so again for the last time Saturday, Sept. 30, at 7 and 9 p.m.

Příliš tichý nos (Too Quiet a Nose) is the name of this site-specific performance under the auspices of the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, or PQ, in which two musicians accompany four actors through the ups and downs of a truly bizarre routine staged around three main settings.

In the outer courtyard, where the garden is covered in plastic, spectators are welcomed by the two wig-wearing leads, before being led inside, through mattress-covered hallways, to an area where dough is prepared - on a table, and even on a dancing woman upon whom the flour-and-water mix finds its ideal consistency. Many other strange things occur in these small rooms, often barely large enough to fit the more than 50 paying customers. Eventually, the visitors are taken downstairs, past arguably the most hilarious bit of scenery - "Freud's armchair," a must-see - to an aviary where the evening makes a final bow to the absurd.

There are quite a few cabaret-like bits and a nonstop barrage of verbal gymnastics whose puns will have you in stitches if you understand Czech or German. Unfortunately, the performance is not English-friendly, but many fantastically over-the-top moments go a long way toward enjoying the evening nonetheless.

Příliš tichý nos
Where: Nekázanka 18
When: Saturday, Sept. 30, at 7, 9
Entrance: 200 Kč for adults, 150 Kč for students
Tickets: Ticket office of Celetná Theater

Sometimes, the envelope is pushed, as when a half-naked man is seen wearing boxers with the yellow wartime Jewish badge while climbing a rope to nowhere. Constant references to the city of Brno and karaoke-like numbers performed by jaw-droppingly out-of-breath singers reading the lyrics from a wall make this a unique interpretation of the work of Kafka that won't help your understanding of the writer, but will certainly give you a glimpse into the loony mind that continues to be an inspiration for artists around the world, whether their noses are quiet or not.

André Crous can be reached at

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