Was Socrates executed by a vigilant Athenian “department of homeland security?”
The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre always does thoughtful work, and this latest presentation successfully combines their philosophy with that of their protagonist. “The Republic, or My Dinner With Socrates” dramatizes the philosopher ‘s trial and death. The set, which consists of Plato’s cave of ideas alongside memories of his teacher Socrates, is also a rehearsal space where the performers receive notes, proving an opportunity to get to know this likable ensemble. The cave’s back wall is a white screen where shadow puppets dramatize concepts, giant talking Athenian heads denounce Socrates, and contemporary headlines are projected as reminders that the status quo never likes challenge. Within the cave puppeteers and carved characters play detractors and defenders – with all taking turns as Socrates. Their initial enthusiasm for the lead role lessens as the inevitable draws closer. It is director/playwright Vít Horejš who takes hold of the strings and speaks Socrates’ last words. The inanimate and living actors make this ultimate act of defiance a moving and timely one.