He calls himself Vandam. As Jean-Claude van Damme. He’s a hero. A warrior. Continental. He knows all about the battles. In both personal and historical sense. He has an opinion about everything. Politics. Women. The world.
In the curial year of 1989, he stood in Prague on the National Avenue, where on November 17 a demonstration leading to the fall of the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia took place. It was Vandam, who with his first punch turned the wheels of history, as he says. That was a long time ago. And since then, much has changed. During the day, he paints the rooftops of the blocks of flats on the outskirts of Prague. In the evening, he sits in the Severka pub. This is his world. Here they celebrate. Here they chat. Here is where they argue about politics. Here is where they swear. Here is where Vandam occasionally breaks someone’s teeth and teaches them about life, as he says. He likes Lucka, the tapster, a sympathetic, vigorous woman who is bruised like he is. He would like to be with her. And maybe she with him. But it’s not easy. Both of them have a lot of scars from the past.
In an impressive monologue, Vandam explains his heroic actions. Past battles and wars. Waiting for more wars and battles to come. He tells the story of today’s Europe. About his family. About his father. About his grandfather. And about his son, who he cannot see in person. Vandam loves to talk and likes to provoke. Perhaps by sometimes raising his right arm in the Roman greeting manner. And then he says, “Czech humour.”
Avinguda Nacional, by Czech playwright Jaroslav Rudiš, is the culmination of the international theatre project Fabulamundi. Playwriting Europe, which aims at promoting the exchange of plays and playwrights among the different countries. Sala Beckett is part of the project together with theatres of Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Romania.