I think the rest of Europe was watching Eurovision last night. The Czech Republic did not have a participating act, which begs the question: Why? Did the Czechs decide they had something better to put their public money towards (you actually have to pay for the humiliation of participating in Eurovision) or was their proposed entry so bad that even Eurovision (who accepted Jedward for heaven’s sake) turned them down? For the non-Brits amongst you, Jedward are two Irish twins with one name, who were unfortunately brought into our lives as a ‘pop rap duo’ on X-Factor and who, despite a total lack of perceivable talent or obvious appeal, persist on our TV screens today and achieved a top-selling record in a duet with Vanilla Ice.
So, Ireland put forward Jedward but the Czechs didn’t have an entry. How bad must you be to fail to qualify in a contest that has to date displayed no standards at all in terms of melody, lyrics or performance?
Anyway, while the rest of Europe was enjoying this treat, I went to ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’ (aka ‘Charlie Brown the Musical’) at thePrague Playhouse in Vinohrady. It’s hard to know what is more surreal – millions of people evaluating the merits of Jedward as viable performers, or listening a woman depicting the live embodiment of a previously cartoon-based talking dog.
The production played on Broadway over 1,500 times, and this is its debut run in Prague. Minimal Snoopy/Peanuts knowledge is required. Knowing that Snoopy is a dog is probably the only background you need. It’s not a difficult plot to be honest and I think that all of us have basic Snoopy knowledge deep within (in the same way that we all know the lyrics to Miss American Pie). I found myself recognising the characters even though I’m sure I never read Peanuts as a child. I am reliably informed (by hubby, who was a Peanuts fan) that the show recreates in music form some of the most typical or memorable strips from Peanuts.
Everybody loves a good loser (Charlie Brown), a wannabe hero (Snoopy), troubled artist (Schroeder) or a philosopher-theologian child (Linus). Some may also recognise the traits of bossiness and crabbiness displayed by Lucy. The appeal of Charlie Brown and co has kept Peanuts in business for over 60 years, and this production makes it clear why.
It’s a really fun performance, with a small cast (Snoopy, Charlie, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder and Patty) and minimal set (two cartoon clouds and a red kennel that even I recognised). I was really impressed. Jay DeYonker (Linus) and Caryn Stringer (Snoopy) gave particularly strong performances. The venue’s great – small but sweet. It’s probably suitable (or aimed at?) kids, but the audience (which was full) was entirely adult. It’s also on next weekend, so if you’re at a loose end it’s definitely worth checking out. Will Noble at the Prague Post offers more insight here
The evening ends with the sketch Happiness Is, which includes:
Happiness is playing the drum in your own school band / And Happiness is walking hand in hand / Happiness is two types of ice cream, and knowing a secret.
Alternatively, Happiness Is: having successfully avoiding Jedward performing to an international audience of millions.
Something to think about. Have a lovely week.