My Stage is the World

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive

Always keep your cards close to your chest…

on October 17, 2016

Review of Poker Face – King’s Head Theatre – 17th October 2017

Political unrest. Family politics. Christmas. The scene is set for drama. But Poker Face is not just a drama of today, but of the past as family history meets young love and three stories become intertwined.

Jana (Lara Parmiani) is a world-famous poker player, but while masking her emotions enables her to win at the game, it has not helped her in her family life. Pavlína (Daiva Dominyka) her daughter resents her, choosing to give all her love to her young, ambitious boyfriend Viktor (Mark Ota).

When the three come together, sparks of all kinds fly, but how will the game end? Who is playing their cards too close to their chest? And who will lose everything?

In this short but gripping play, writer Petr Kolečko takes an historical figure – Václav Havel – and spins an extremely believable tale of love and life, which could almost be fact. Surreal at times, Poker Face combines several aspects of physical theatre, with unique interpretations including a very interesting sex scene and a strange and dramatic labour.

The back story of Jana’s father (Arnost Goldflam) is told in Czech via a screen with subtitles, as she reads his letters from Nigeria. His presence on the screen is extremely emotive, enhancing the powerful message of an almost invisible corruption and how it affected the family, then and now. Through his letters, we almost understand how Jana turned out as she did and how this in turn affected her relationship with Pavlína.

These interwoven stories, both fact and fiction, past and present are fascinating, but once the play reaches its climax, the audience are left with many unanswered questions.

There is always something intense and intimidating about a play with a small cast and Poker Face is no exception. The intimate theatre space enhances the awkward family dynamic while the use of both the English and Czech languages really brings this powerful and absorbing story to life. 

4*

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