The use of masks, wonderfully made, allows each actress to adopt the other’s character silently with just a change of physicality
Antiwords is a piece inspired by Václav Havel’s play Audience, featuring an awkward dialogue between a dissident playwright and a drunken brew master. Spitfire Company and Aurora Theatre’s reworking is amusing, if a little weary at times.
The repetitive nature of the piece is of course half the point. Of the very few lines actually uttered (in Czech, with subtitles projected behind), many are repeated with the same action to help emphasise the point. At a basic level, the brew master keeps pouring the playwright beer and the playwright avoids drinking it in a variety of ways. The brew master will then leave, drunk, before returning and allowing the two actresses to swap roles. The use of masks, wonderfully made, allows each actress to adopt the other’s character silently with just a change of physicality.
The sheer amount of beer not only drunk but downed by the two actresses (and one lucky/unfortunate audience member) in this production deserves some sort of comment and commendation. This is it.
The pace is a bit plodding which, deliberately or otherwise, does create a sense of drowsiness about proceedings. The physical humour is very good but feels limited – the number of ways that the playwright avoids drinking his beer could have been expanded. Also, the introduction to the play seems padded out; it takes a while for us to see the masks in action - when we do, the mask work is good but doesn’t seem like it’s quite used to its full potential.
Antiwords is one for fans of the absurd, the occasional giggle and a second beer.