DOBŘE ROZEHRANÁ PARTIE (Orig. EINE GUTE PARTIE)

DOBŘE ROZEHRANÁ PARTIE (Orig. EINE GUTE PARTIE)

  • Genre Drama
  • Stage Drama Theatre
  • Premiere11. December 2010
  • Length2:30 hod.
  • Number of reprises28
  • Final performance19. January 2012

a brilliant conversation comedy

What to do when your father is a grumpy war veteran, a bitter aging widower who isn’t able to get on well almost with anyone, apart from his old friend Walt, who has visited him for a game of chess every Thursday, for what is now thirty years? Leonard Kowinski gave up the fight to understand his father Fred a long time ago – with the exception of providing keen house maids who never last in his household for more than a week, simply because Fred is a person with whom no-one can live. Until one day that is, when his life is shaken to its foundations – energetic Italian housemaid Rozalie doesn’t accept his grumpiness and starts to play with him according to her own rules. And surprise, surprise, Fred perhaps even comes to like it in the end…except for the fact that Rozalie unveils the secret behind Fred’s and Walt’s game – and finally becomes the lady for whom the game is played. This brilliantly written and deeply human conversation comedy by a contemporary Austrian author living in Lichtenstein provides excellent acting opportunities of which the lion’s share were given to the first lady of Czech theatre – Mrs. Zdena Herfortová!

Author

  • Stefan Vögel

Directed by

  • Stano Slovák

Translation

  • Magdalena Štulcová

Music

Fred Kowinski, penzista

Rosalinda Hundsheimerová, hospodyně

Walt

Dívka, nová hospodyně

A virtuoso display of acting

3. February 2011 zdroj Šalina – magazine of MHD Brno

A virtuoso display of acting
The play Eine gute Partie was written by contemporary Austrian author Stefan Vögel. It is performed at the Drama Theatre of Brno City Theatre under the direction of Stano Slovák. This deeply human comedy about the friendship between two seniors provides space for virtuoso acting performances by Jaroslav Dufek and Ladislav Lakomý, no less brilliantly seconded by Zdena Herfortová in the third main role.

An inconspicuous conversational comedy becomes a brilliant acting concert

Vít Závodský 3. February 2011 zdroj Kam – supplement

An inconspicuous conversational comedy becomes a brilliant acting concert
An unprejudiced visitor to the Brno City Theatre will appreciate the consistent repertoire balance between demanding and relaxing (particularly foreign) titles at both the Drama and the Music Theatre. In the latter case, when observing a longer time period one will notice a relatively numerous series of successful French or Anglo-American farces such as Feydeau´s “immortal” Flea in Her Ear (it has been shown without interruption since 1996!), Wilde´s drawing room comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, the play by the authorial duo Cooney-Chapman Not Now, Darling!, Labiche´s Straw Hat, Bean´s Honeymoon Suite, Charley´s Aunt by Brandon Thomas, Art by Yasmina Reza, Veber´s Dinner Game and Hawdon´s farce The Perfect Wedding. These were joined by the December premieres (the second of them was on New Year´s Eve) of Stefan Vögel´s first work Eine gute Partie (first production in Stuttgart in 2002).
Vögel, a middle-aged Austrian living in Lichtenstein, has walked the path of a cabaret actor, a theatre-oriented businessman (he founded the prospering Volkstheater in Götzis in Vorarlberg among other activities) and of an award-winning author of just under ten plays, most of which are popular with theatre companies. Their popularity in German-speaking regions contrasts with their relative obscurity here: only Eine gute Partie has been produced in the Czech Republic, this being by Lída Engelová at the Prague ABC Theatre in 2008.
The generally simple plot vaguely reminds one of an older comedy by popular American Neil Simon, The Sunshine Boys, about the final years in the careers of vaudeville actors who used to be a good team but who grew to ignore each other, argue about petty things and who are subsequently reunited through their sad old-age worries. This comedy has been shown successfully at Mahen´s theatre for the second season running. In the case of Eine gute Partie, it is a genuine though not above-average three-act conversational comedy of the commercial type which offers an interesting set of opposing senior male characters, witty dialogues and even monologues up on a bare stage. In a not very cosy 1970s London flat with a large photo portrait of Winston Churchill as a dominant feature, two war veterans – Fred, a British man of Polish origin, and his Scottish friend Walt – have been meeting regularly for many years in order to indulge in their hobby of playing chess, though without any tournament ambitions. Their weekly routine is interrupted by the entry of the third apex of the triangle as a kind of reviving element – their energetic hired housekeeper Rosalinda Hundsheimer, a German woman with Italian roots.
Klára Latzková and Jan Šotkovský have slightly adapted the translation by Magdaléna Štulcová and prepared it dramaturgically (including the usual high-quality printed programme) for skilled young actor and director Stanislav Slovák, who started his career in musicals (Jánošík, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), and later tried his hand at drama (the above-mentioned Perfect Wedding). He understood in this case that the original provides a welcome opportunity for mature actors who are attuned to one another and who will be only guided sensitively by a director who belongs to a different generation and who is able and willing to fuse his own contribution with their creations. By a lucky turn of events a star trio of actors was assembled, all of whom once graduated from the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts and linked their critically-acclaimed artistic journeys (including two Thalia Awards in the 1990s) with two leading theatres in Brno: Ladislav Lakomý (the oldest), Jaroslav Dufek and Zdena Herfortová (the youngest).
A more detailed analysis of the excellent acting component of Slovák´s production would exceed the dimensions of this short text and will probably find its place in the relevant chapter of the creditable annual publications of Brno City Theatre. The landlord of the simply-equipped rented apartment (through the costume work of Andrea Kučerová and the efforts of set designer Jaroslav Milfajt a messy and tidy version of the living room alternate according to the timing of the individual acts) is seventy-year-old Fred Kowinsky, who has spent the last six years living the life of a lonely and neglected widower who sometimes touchingly reminisces about his wife Marylin. Jaroslav Dufek embodied this robust, grumpy and bitter pedant, who is capricious, ill-tempered, egocentric and prone to frequent choleric outbursts. He takes his anger out on the repeatedly “liquidated” housekeepers (one of the small roles of a girl who gave up quickly was acted by Hana Kovaříková as ‘The Girl’), as well as on his downtrodden forty-year-old son Leonard, a vacuum cleaner salesman (his daughter Margaret got married in Australia). Viktor Skála gave the son’s character not only the image and gestures of a punctilious businessman but also demonstrated his ambivalent relationship with his father (ranging from concern to jealousy), to whom he shows similarities via his exaggerated neurotic expressions.
The polar opposite of Fred´s character is his former comrade-in-arms, Walt (Ladislav Lakomý), whom we first see wearing a Scottish kilt. This fragile, quiet, bespectacled man radiates humbleness and yet maintains a natural pride beyond his disarming look - despite his usual conflict-free behaviour and a certain submissiveness he finds it hard to come to terms with Fred´s long-term violation of their friendly chess agreement and insists on his apology. Zdena Herfortová, who celebrated an important birthday last year, expectedly brings new tones to the story as the elderly Rosalinda. This active and ever-smiling lady with a lot of life experience is both authoritarian as well as diplomatically hard to offend, is cunning in her advance thinking and alternates empathy and flirtation with mild irony. She not only tames bristly Fred and makes him more human but also has an influence on his relationship with his friend.
Apart from offering a realistic view on non-communicative old age, this comedy without a dramatic plot speaks for example about happiness based on fraudulent behaviour and the motif of unnecessary ethnic prejudices and resentments left behind after war. The inventive director, who is fully respected by the protagonists despite their different ages, refreshed the play with the contribution of musical refrains by Karel Cón alongside many inconspicuous but important scenic details that stress the change in the seemingly everyday characters in a tasteful way without any dishonest vulgarity. The individual situations pulse via these small details softly and at a regular and balanced pace: the automatically performed private “rituals” (e.g. the arrivals of visitors), petty conflicts and pointless disputes (e.g. regarding the placement of cutlery on the table), sulking and repeated reconciliation. The on-stage harmony of experienced and well-cast thespians (not to mention the requirements of the role as far as memory is concerned) has created a special evening which the satisfied and perceptive audience deservedly rewards with rounds of applause.

In praise of mature acting

Vít Závodský 25. January 2011 zdroj Týdeník Rozhlas

Eine gute Partie is a relatively simple story loosely derived from material from the Anglo-American tabloid press. It is based on witty dialogues between senior citizens of contrasting character, war veterans who have been meeting for years to play lengthy chess games under a portrait of Churchill in an uncomfortable housing block flat in London. Skilled young director Stanislav Slovák has created this conversational comedy in a slightly adapted translation by Magdalena Štulcová with the aid of a star trio of mature actors whose award-winning creative activities are forever linked to two leading Brno theatres. The robust and British man of the house, Fred Kowinski (played by Jaroslav Dufek), starts out as a grumpy and sour widower who continuously humiliates his son Leonard (Viktor Skála) and keeps breaking his agreement with his more fragile, submissive but no less proud Scottish friend, Walt (Ladislav Lakomý). Their dull and monotonous routine is soundly shattered by energetic and emphatic housekeeper Rosalinda Hundsheimer (Zdena Herfortová), a German with Italian roots. The director has freshened up the somewhat action-free original work with its motif of national prejudice and the capriciousness of old age by the use of many inconspicuous but importance-bearing details. It is a real pleasure for the spectators to watch how such seemingly everyday characters shift and change, the gentle pulsing of the individual situations: established rituals, banal conflicts and petty arguments, sulking and reconciliation. The on-stage harmony between the experienced actors creates an unusual evening of high quality.

Eine gute Partie

Jiří P. Kříž 25. January 2011 zdroj Xantypa

Two old companions - an English widower and his Scottish adversary - have been meeting over a chessboard under a somewhat larger-than-life war portrait of Winston Churchill for thirty-seven years. After several ruined housekeepers a new one appears; one of those temperamental Germans who had been conquered by these two some time ago in the war. It’s Eine gute Partie by Stefan Vögel and on the stage of Moša´s sovereign theatrical territory, three legends of the Brno theatre scene: Jaroslav Dufek, Zdena Herfortová and Ladislav Lakomý; after the premiere they even received standing ovations from the critics this time. These three people overcame hostile situations to conjure up forgiveness for human weaknesses which were perhaps motivated by a lack of social appreciation, and they turned history upside down.
After the allied veterans Fred Kowinski and Walt suffered a deterioration in their fighting morale – they even went as far as cheating, and not only in their short and long castling – the Third Reich ended up the victorious power, represented by Ms Rosalinda Hundsheimer with the two men perfectly twisted around her little finger. It needs to be pointed out that even Winston on the wall, equipped with a Russian machine gun with a drum magazine, doesn’t mind this. Let’s hope that this isn’t the last time these three will be persuaded to perform together on stage. It really suits them a lot!

Three legends acted their parts in a touching as well as humorous way

Lenka Suchá 6. January 2011 zdroj Brněnský deník

Three legends acted their parts in a touching as well as humorous way
The production Eine gute Partie offers a real experience thanks to the acting of Jaroslav Dufek, Ladislav Lakomý and Zdena Herfortová
Brno City Theatre had long been promising the conversational comedy Eine gute Partie as their last premiere of 2010, a grand return of three acting legends. Jaroslav Dufek, Ladislav Lakomý and Zdena Herfortová have really proved in this work by contemporary Austrian playwright Stefan Vögel that their collective acting talent is just as great as it ever was even after all these years. A story from the lives of three pensioners of different characters, endowed with years of experience, natural unforced ways of expression as well as the ability to correctly time their nippy replies.
Director Stano Slovák has put the most emphasis on the acting performances and thus he concentrated the attention of the spectators on the dialogues and acting of the characters. A functional and austere stage by Jaroslav Milfajt exactly evokes the room of a seventy-year-old grump. War veteran Fred Kowinski lives in it alone after the death of his wife, refusing to go out or communicate with the surrounding world, and he spends most of his time with his memories of the war under the huge photograph of Winston Churchill which is on the wall. The arrival of an energetic housekeeper, Rosalinda Hundsheimer, who also unintentionally reveals the secret of Fred’s game of chess with his old friend Walt, causes an unexpected transformation.
Jaroslav Dufek hasn’t created an exaggerated caricature from his character of a constantly grumpy old man; he is natural and often irresistibly funny during his morose outbursts. Zdena Herfortová, who got the role as a present for her birthday from the theatre, endowed Rosie with “housekeeper-like” energy, charm and irony in the crackling dialogues with Fred. “The grand master of slow draws” Ladislav Lakomý managed in his three only scenes to capture the brittle character of Walt’s soul and embody certain problems of old age (hearing loss, senility).
The mosaic of characters was suitably completed by Fred’s unhappy son, Viktor Skála, and Hana Kováříková as a temporary housekeeper. The two-hour-long production Eine gute Partie presents a sensitive story of ageing people with humorous dialogues and bitter and melancholy passages. It will perhaps remind older citizens of some moments from their life and it also adds the positive message that there are still reasons to live when you reach retirement age. As a bonus, it brings an experience in the form of the meeting of three theatre legends whose life stories have intersected repeatedly at the Mrštík Brothers Theatre as well as at nearby Mahen´s Theatre over the last few decades.

A great performance by legendary actors

Iveta Macková 1. January 2011 zdroj Kult

A great performance by legendary actors
Brno City Theatre presented the premiere of Vögel’s Eine gute Partie at the Drama Theatre in December, directed by Stano Slovák. This conversational comedy is the first play by the contemporary Austrian author and recognized cabaret producer Stefan Vögel, who is considered to be a specialist on the topic of interpersonal relationships; they also form the subject matter of his later comedies. The plot of the play is set in England in the 1970s. The play contains well crafted dialogues (translated by Magdalena Štulcová) which aptly capture the individual personas of each of the individual characters.

The main character, the inaccessible and almost tyrannical English widower Fred (Jaroslav Dufek), literally terrorizes the people around him. One day, temperamental and authoritarian Rosalinda (a German woman with Italian roots) appears at his door, and the life of this senior citizen is turned upside down. Rosalinda is played by Zdena Herfortová, who is celebrating a special anniversary this season (she was born in 1945), and this production was chosen for her. The third actor is the equally excellent Ladislav Lakomý who, in the role of Walt, regularly pops over to Fred’s for a game of chess. Also, the no-less-masterly performance of Gustav Skála as Fred’s son, Leonard, cannot be omitted.

The cast of the comedy itself guarantees excellent acting performances based on perfect delivery and a feeling for the dynamics of word, expression and gesture. The actors showed all this and more during the premiere, and were rewarded with deserved ovations by the satisfied and entertained audience. The decorations of the functional stage by Jaroslav Milfajt provided a decent background, Andrea Kučerová´s costumes added to the portrayal of the characters and the music by Karel Cón emanating from loudspeakers completed the atmosphere.
Iveta Macková, Kult, January 2011

Eine gute Partie and a really good performance

Luboš Mareček 30. December 2011 zdroj Mladá fronta DNES

Eine gute Partie and a really good performance
Brno City Theatre has engaged leading actors of the older generation, but this is no hawking of old wares - it is an excursion to the times of masterful acting

The idea of bringing together three leading Brno actors after more than two decades is worth its weight in gold. It has happened in Brno City Theatre’s new production, where Zdena Herfortová (1945), Ladislav Lakomý (1931) and Jaroslav Dufek (1934) star in Eine gute Partie, a buoyant conversational comedy by Stefan Vögel.
This comedy by the contemporary Austrian author, who is currently living in Lichtenstein, offers the well written story of two war veterans who have been playing chess together for years. Grumpy widower Fred Kowinski, whose son keeps sending him new housekeepers who soon get written off, is only able to get on well with his old friend Walt. You’ve guessed correctly - these old arrangements only remain valid until energetic Italian housekeeper with German roots Rosalinda Hundsheimer opens the front door to the home of this shabby seventy-year-old man. The nationalist hatred from the Second World War and the gloom of abandoned old age are suddenly overcome by the vitality of this woman.
Stano Slovák´s direction is seemingly absent. It isn’t that these doyens of the Czech theatre do whatever they want. Each of them simply, with great ease and disarming certainty, throws tons of originality and uniqueness at the audience via their performance, speech and actor’s charisma. This performance places you in the old world of proper Czech theatre where no one hams it up or indulges in unnecessary and empty exhibitionism. This job perfectly done is adorned with the authenticity that catapulted all three of the above-mentioned actors to the highest echelons of Czech theatre stardom.
However, this ‘certain bet’ might not have been a successful one. Both gentlemen are seniors with all that this brings both at the theatre as well as in life. The quantity of flawlessly managed material in Dufek´s part would certainly be impressive even for actors who are a generation younger. Slovák´s production didn’t collapse into a reverent salutation of old timers. It has perfect pace, excellently shaped as well as tempered characters and the dialogues are precise up to the last word. It must be admitted, though, that it is “only” a clever conversational play which doesn’t really push the limits of dramatic art anywhere.
Brno’s new production Eine gute Partie is no parade of over-the-hill thespians but a very rewarding and attractive piece (the spectators gave the actors standing ovations at the premiere). And, as a paradox, it is also an interesting excursion to the times when the masters of acting trod the boards (and not only in Brno).
, , 30.12.2010

Three legends meet at Brno City Theatre

Pavel Gajdoš 21. December 2010 zdroj České noviny

Three legends meet at Brno City Theatre
Eine gute Partie bets on the acting performances of three real legends of Brno’s drama theatre scene whose life stories have kept intersecting both at the Mrštík Brothers Theatre and Mahen’s Theatre
Fred Kowinski is an old man who is constantly grumpy, a widower who lives under a huge picture of Winston Churchill and mainly with his memories of fighting in the war. This character was acted by Jaroslav Dufek, who has been a member of Mahen’s drama theatre for many years. His Fred isn’t able to get on with almost anyone, bringing his housemaids, who are provided and sponsored by his son, to the point of nervous breakdown; swift escape follows. The only person Fred is able to tolerate by his side is his old friend Walt, who has been coming over for a game of chess every Thursday for thirty years.
Walt, acted by Ladislav Lakomý, is brittle and admittedly old but neither senile nor stupid nor oversensitive. Lakomý has lent the character vitality; he doesn’t slip into the unfortunately common caricature of old age as senility. Similarly, Dufek also doesn’t ham it up; he depicts the grumpy old man naturally and with grace. One day, however, Fred’s peace and stability is overturned by a woman - what else. This new housekeeper has German and Italian roots, which is a deadly combination for war veteran Fred. Or a life-changing one? Rosalinda, energetically acted by the sensuous and yet tasteful Zdena Herfortová, doesn’t come to terms with Fred’s character and starts to transform and form him, gradually and inconspicuously.
A proficient second to the three main protagonists is Viktor Skála as the unhappy and unappreciated son of the war veteran, Leonard Kowinski. A girl – a temporary housekeeper – is also a pleasantly refreshing element thanks to the innovative engagement of Hana Kovaříková from the operetta ensemble in this drama role. This brilliant conversational comedy by contemporary Austrian author (currently living in Lichtenstein), Stefan Vögel, was directed by Stano Slovák - with dramaturgy by Klára Latzková and Jan Šotkovský – who have brought yet another spirited piece of modern comedy to the theatre on Lidická Street.
, , 21.12.2010

Eine gute Partie – an acting triumph for a Brno trio

Kateřina Šebelová 17. December 2010 zdroj Velká Epocha

The acting performances in Eine gute Partie are great indeed in this production by Brno City Theatre. This situation comedy plays with the life stories of the main characters quite ruthlessly and it certainly doesn’t spare them any pain. The story is particularly strong thanks to the star trio in the main roles. Jaroslav Dufek was the right choice for the unbearably sweet pensioner and chess cheat; his tandem with Ladislav Lakomý’s Walt makes for an excellently coordinated double act. Everything is balanced out wonderfully by a female element represented by Zdena Herfortová as the housekeeper, Rosalinda. The triangle of these three actors is, undoubtedly, an acting triumph. The spectators find Jaroslav Dufek´s cute intolerableness completely believable, and they are greatly entertained by it as well. The counterpart of the intolerable pensioner Fred Kowinski is the calm and patient Walt with the charming voice of Ladislav Lakomý, who balances out the explosiveness of his co-player efficiently. Zdena Herfortová, who in the end becomes the person the two men are playing for, is irresistible and charming in her role and there is nothing one could complain about. Her temperament is simply unbelievable. The desperate son, Leonard, played by Viktor Skála, is simply fizzing with emotions. It’s perhaps a tad overdone but it isn’t such an issue for this character.

Eine gute Partie offers a witty performance for the whole family. Poignant humour, funny dialogues and excellent acting performances – this is a cocktail which builds up gradually, maintaining its amusing and dramatic line and pace until the end. People say that the older wine is the better it tastes, and this is true threefold for Eine gute Partie. The proof of this is the fact that Brno City Theatre showed Eine gute Partie as its festive New Year’s Eve performance.

Three times bravo for a superb performance

Jiří P. Kříž 14. December 2010 zdroj Právo

Jaroslav Dufek, Zdena Herfortová and Ladislav Lakomý in Eine gute Partie  (Dobře rozehraná partie)

A simple summary: two old companions, an English widower and a Scot, have been meeting to play chess together every week for thirty-seven years. After several spoilt games, a new housekeeper arrives, a German woman - that’s Eine gute Partie by Stefan Vögel. What made this production brilliant was that it featured three legends of the Brno theatre scene: Jaroslav Dufek, Zdena Herfortová, Ladislav Lakomý and their Eine gute Partie received standing ovations after the premiere from all the spectators.

The war is not over yetIt should be mentioned that Stanislav Slovák had a go at managing the trio of masters as far as direction is concerned and support was provided by Viktor Skála in the role of the widower’s frustrated son, Hana Kovaříková as another housekeeper and also the pride of the production – a life-sized portrait of Winston Churchill.
The three actors conjured understanding and forgiveness for human weaknesses out of hostile situations which were perhaps partly motivated by a lack of appreciation from society. No-one has to be afraid, though, that after seeing the Partie they will have to think about the prejudices of the wartime generation. The Englishman, Scot and German lady with Italian roots are wonderfully lively. Jaroslav Dufek as the bristly and grumpy patriot Fred Kowinski tyrannizes all the housekeepers as well as his son, who turned out bad even if he is a successful distributor of vacuum cleaners. He inherited a sense for Slavic cheating from his Polish ancestors. Dufek leads Fred across the stage in a permanent pre-heart attack swoon. However, there was some space left there for sadness. Bravo! Ladislav Lakomý: economic and in Walt´s role beautifully deadened diction and gestures have always been his acting style. Also, Rosalinda Hundsheimer has a good influence on him. He even gives up his national pride – a checkered skirt. He equips his awful chess player with a touching petulance and the spectators feel with him. Bravo!

When Thálie is actingZdena Herfortová: as Ms. Hundsheimer she can even bring good manners to life in grumpy Fred and make him human in a Darwinesque way; she keeps her advantage over the men. A strict women who is willing to make peace, she isn’t a one-string character even in this role even though she could have comfortably acted it this way. She is also celebrating an important birthday this year (the age isn’t to be mentioned). Well – Thálie. Bravo. Let’s hope that this trio hasn’t only been persuaded to perform together just this once and that this isn’t the last time. They look good together!

Eine gute Partie received deserved applause at Brno City Theatre

Alena Kopečková 14. December 2010 zdroj www.topzine.cz

Brno City Theatre staged the comedy Eine gute Partie to mark an important anniversary in the life of actress Zdena Herfortová.

I would evaluate the performance of real pensioner Ladislav Lakomý in the role of Walt, Fred’s friend from the war and also his opponent in chess with the very witty title of the grand master of protracted draws, as absolutely perfect. Zdena Herfortová starred for the whole period of the play and radiated the right enthusiasm for a housekeeper, while Jaroslav Dufek brought his pensioner to life with great exactness. Eine gute Partie with its four acts and an excellent cast is certainly the right thing for those cold evenings, and not just December ones. Whoever feels like relaxing and enveloping themselves in a somewhat exaggerated version of reality should definitely visit Brno City Theatre and see Eine gute Partie. They won’t regret it.

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