SMRT HUBERTA PERNY / THE DEATH OF HUBERT PERNA

Luboš Balák

Genre: A play in one act
Cast: 1 woman, 2 men (all of approximately the same age)

Balák’s little play is framed by an introduction and a kind of ironic-passionate epitaph in which the author appreciatively celebrates his hero of heroes Hubert Perna, which compares with the closing line of the office worker Bédi: “What a moron he was”, a comment on Hubert’s death. The question here disputed is obvious. Hubert Perna is an eccentric and shy handyman shut in his domestic refuge with its trick-wires and mechanisms, into which the outside world can only penetrate by means of a demented radio. Hubert’s Ubu-like gluttonous gift of the gab can daringly be measured against the grandiloquence of hyperbolic commentaries of village events, which becomes immediately apparent when someone rings at Hubert’s door. The surrounding ether invades Hubert in the form of the twins Máni and Bédi, from whom office workers entrusted with the liquidation of the mad author of a dangerous invention are gradually hatched. It is no accident that the name of the dramatist of the absurd Václav Havel is mentioned in connection with Balák, and not only thanks to the figures of the mysterious liquidators led by the ghastly instructions of an unseen power, but above all because of the language which drags the characters into the most bizarre rhetorical somersaults and associative pirouettes. It is on words above all that Balák builds a situation which flows from the characters like some sort of badge or identity which steam-rollers them into the mechanism of the atmosphere. In spite of the signs of possible friendship and interpersonal contact this always tilts over into hysteria. In the end, is Hubert a panic-stricken animal drowning in his own depths, a madman in the hand of diabolical carers, or a mere delirious emission of the fantasy of his own creator.

  The play is available in Czech original.


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