The Pig (or Václav Havel's Hunt for a Pig)


Václav Havel (Robert Honeywell) on the shoulders of the chorus

Reviewed: June 30, 2011
Venue: 3LD (NYC)
Producers: Untitled Theater Company No. 61/The Ice Factory
Running Time: 65 minutes
June 29 - July 2, 2011

Creative Team:
Text by Václav Havel
Adapted by Vladimir Morávek and Edward Einhorn
Music by Bedřich Smetana (The Bartered Bride)
Directed by Henry Akona

Václav Havel's The Pig was originally a short dialogue written in 1987, circulated hand to hand, about his attempt to buy a pig for a pig roast for his friends. In 2010, Czech director Vladimir Morávek decided to stage the piece, adding in new lines and, for some unexplained reason, music from the operetta The Bartered Bride by Czech composer Bedřich Smetana.

In turn, Edward Einhorn, whose Untitled Theater Company No. 61 has been a champion of Havel's works, got permission to adapt it further by adding in more lines, some choruses, a live video feed, a small orchestra, and choreography.

The result is a short fizzy theater piece that, while full of brio and talent (many of the singers also play instruments), overshadows its source material, Havel's wry account of how the country folk outsmart the intellectuals who are searching for a pig for their pig roast.

The set-up is an American journalist (Katherine Boynton), trailed by her two-person video team, interviews "Mr. Havel" (pronounced with a long "a") about this porcine adventure. As Havel (Robert Honeywell) recounts his quest, the ensemble intersperses selections from The Bartered Bride that provide something of a commentary on the action while also acting out the characters Havel encounters.

At the end of the hunt, when Havel has been outmaneuvered and forced to pay an astronomical price for the animal, the show slides sideways towards Havel's political side, with the thick contract he signs agreeing to the price turning into the text of Charter 77, the seminal cri de coeur of the Czech intelligentsia in the mid-1970s, and the show ends with a choral rendition of Havel's famed dictum, "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred."

The Pig is a slight work, timed properly at about an hour. It's not clear what the point of the production is, but it's a pleasant enough time spent in the theatre, especially if you partake of the pre-show pork snacks.

Michael Bettencourt