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The Talented Mr. Ripley (Patricia Highsmith)

Natália Deáková

Direction: Natálie Deáková 
Dramatisation and dramaturgy: Marie Špalová
Dramatisation assistance: Marie Caltová
Set: Lukáš Kuchinka
Costumes: Jana Smetanová 
Music: Jakub Kudláš

Tom: Pavel Neškudla
Dickie: Ondřej Rychlý
Marge: Andrea Mohylová
Pat Jana Kubátová

Premiere: 5th November 2016

The Talented Mr. Ripley The riveting story of Tom, a talented young man but a drifter, who longs for wealth and above all recognition, and is capable of playing even the riskiest games in order to achieve his aims. Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thriller has twice been filmed, to great acclaim, and now appears for the first time on the Czech stage. As well as featuring attractive performances, this intimate production focuses on the subject of crisis of identity. Tom Ripley, as “the man who wanted to be someone else”, is a highly contemporary character for today’s society and the parallel lives it leads in a virtual world. How far are people prepared to go in their desire for another life? Are there any boundaries?

Tom Ripley was one of writer Patricia Highsmith’s favourite characters – she even identified with him to a certain extent, so he appears in several of her works. Marie Špálová has thus focused in her dramatisation of The Talented Mr Ripley not only on the content of this well-known psychological thriller, but she has also introduced biographical elements relating to the author herself. She not only projects these on to the figure of Tom, but she introduces a further role, Pat, which holds more than one significance. In the constricted space of Pilsen’s Small Stage there thus unfolds a psychological drama that goes beyond the boundary of mere psychologising (…) Pavel Neškudla enters the stage a pitiable figure with a nervous tic, only to change gradually into an ever more self-confident driver of events. He is not, however, an unambiguously cynical monster thirsting after wealth and status. It is more as if he is searching for his real self, and oscillating between its various forms. The homosexual motif is also accentuated, clearly based on the author’s own bitter experiences. In the end Neškudla joins all the forms in Tom into one, which does not give a merely pyschopathologising impression, but becomes a reflection of a person who denies practically any kind of regularity in human society.
Jana Paterová, Divadelní noviny

Natália Deáková [directs] with a feeling for atmosphere and an ability to get under the skin of all her characters. In the intimate club space she does not help herself out by using set changes, and all the actors are on stage almost permanently. This gives the production the necessary tension and tempo. The scenes of extreme violence also come over convincingly – the lighting, music (by Jakub Kudláč) and stylised movement are in harmony, and nothing disturbs the audience as it experiences the story. It was an exceptionally good idea to make use of the abilities of the multi-instrumentalist Ondřej Rychlý and make music and its playing a common interest of Tom and Dickie’s. This occurs neither in the novel not the film – but it works brilliantly.
Jan Anderle, Plzeňský deník

Natália Deáková (1981) Theatre and radio director. Born in 1981 in Bratislava, where she studied at the Gymnázium Jura Hronce with a focus on foreign languages and literature. She studied theatre direction at DAMU in Prague. In January 2005 she became head of the Činoherní studio in Ústí nad Labem. After a short period of maternity leave she returned to the theatre as a director. During her six years at the theatre her most memorable productions were Mahen’s Janošík, Paula Vogel’s How I Learned To Drive, and the staged comic book Alois Nebel, which she created in her own workshop from Jaroslav Rudiš and Jaromír Švejdík’s book. During her time at Ústí nad Labem she also worked with Czech and Slovak radio. In January 2012 she started work as a director at Czech Radio in Prague. Her production of Felicie Zeller’s play Interviews With Astronauts won second prize in the drama category at the Prix Bohemia awards in 2013. She first worked with the drama section of the Tyl Theatre on the production of Sekal Must Die (2013), shown at the Theatre festival. Since September of the same year she has been head of the company. Her productions there include August in Osage Country, Burnt by the Sun (also seen at the Divadlo theatre festival), Camus‘ Caligula and Mann’s Mephisto.

J. K. Tyl Theatre consists of four companies which together show some 500 drama, opera, operetta, musical and ballet performances a year. The theatre tries to achieve a varied repertoire, balanced in genre, which includes new plays both Czech and foreign: last year the theatre showed 24 premieres. With its history of almost a hundred years, its artistic activity and a number of other activities, it is an important theatre not just on the West Bohemian level.


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