FRANKIE THE ARMLESS The stork who brought him to his parents bit off his arms before he was born, and so Frankie was born without them. His unfeigned enthusiasm is, however, utterly infectious, even at times when optimism is the only thing he has left. He has taught himself to do with his feet everything a child needs – to pick up a stone and throw it over a church, to fly a kite, to play marbles and also to fight. This unrelentingly black comedy based on a real story focuses on the tense moments in Frankie’s life, in which he stubbornly tries to break free of his fate and environment. Against a background of modern Czech history, Frankie faces a great battle for human dignity.
Jakub Albrecht as Frankie won an award for best male performance in the 2019 Critics’ Survey.
Dianiška and Orozovič’s script is definitely not improvised, but a highly thought-through and composed play, shot through with verbal and situational humour. Making fun of handicap is maybe more on the borderline than an exaggerated telling of the tale of victims of the communist regime, as in another of Dianiška’s plays, The Silence of the Beavers.
– MARIE RESLOVÁ, Divadelní noviny
Some scenes are created using subtle theatre resources and they make you hold your breath. Such a scene is the one in which the handicapped Eva and Frankie grow erotically close to one another. Others knock you over in their harshness, including the violent nationalisation of Frankie’s restaurant, crowned by the STB agents‘ request for an autograph in the book that Frankie had written about his life.
– JAN KERBR, Lidové noviny
Albrecht shows a great deal of physical prowess, but at the same time he manages to give Frankie a combination of guileless, almost naive optimism, hard work and on the other hand fundamental sadness at the burden that fate has placed on him.
– JANA SOPROVÁ, Svět a divadlo
F. X. Kalba is an artistic pseudonym that makes reference to F. X. Šalda, the distinguished Czech literary critic after whom a theatre in Liberec is named. (“Kalba” means “party”). The Liberec theatre was where Tomáš Dianiška used to work, and it may be assumed that he is the main person behind the mysterious pseudonym. However, the actor who plays Frankie the Armless, Jakub Albrecht, also used to work at the Liberec theatre. The third important figure in the “Kalba clan” is rumoured to be the actress Tereza Dočkalová. All three are engaged at the Palmovka Theatre, and the auteur-style productions signed by Kalba as the director are created mostly in the Palmovka’s studio theatre.
PALMOVKA THEATRE is a repertoire theatre with a long tradition. In 2018 it gained the Theatre of the Year award in the Czech Theatre Critics’ Survey, on the 70th anniversary of the theatre’s foundation. After operational problems (the theatre is close to the Vltava river, and was hit by floods twice in close succession) the Libeň-based company, led by director Michal Lang, is managing to combine in its repertoire both mainstream and experimental theatre. The theatre performs both on the main stage and in the chamber environment of the Studio PALM OFF, which is where Tomáš Dianiška’s auteur-style projects are premiered. Since 2015 the theatre has organised the international festival of central European theatres PALM OFF FEST. The distinguished Polish director Jan Klata has twice worked with the Palmovka Theatre’s company (Shakespeare: Measure for Measure, Goethe: Faust).