In Search of the Lost Paradise

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It took a decade for the critically acclaimed ‘absurd comedy’ In Search of the Lost Paradise to reach the stage. Written in the early years of the century by Czech playwright Vlastimil Venclik (born 1942), it premiered at the Semafor Theater in Prague on March 24, 2014, after which Roman Meluzin’s production toured the country.

The play is a two-hander between a couple named Adam and Eve, and the entire action takes place in a bedroom at the Hotel Eden. Obviously there is an allegorical dimension here. The central concept is that we watch the relationship develop backwards: the comedy comprises four scenes, each effectively a mini-playlet in its own right, in which the lovers meet at roughly 20-year intervals, starting with them at the age of 80 and counting progressively down, revealing different attitudes to life and sexuality each time, until they reach their paradisal state of first love at 18 years old.

Adam was played by Zdenek Podhursky, and Eve was Ivana Jiresova. You can see rather a lot of them both at the top of the article, but maybe you’d like another look at her:

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Venclik’s starting-point for the play was the teenage sequence; it was only later that he hit on the idea of following the characters through almost their entire ensuing lives. But for our purposes, the key scene is the one when the lovers, aged around 40, unexpectedly meet one another again back at the same hotel.

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This is probably the bumpiest part of the ride for the characters, and an argument between them comes to a climax when he pushes her down on the bed, takes his belt and…

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She then goes off in a huff, but eventually returns and joins him in bed.

Obviously this is not technically a spanking, but the theater’s publicity machine, which made much of the incident, emphasized that Eve is being whacked on the seat of her panties and not, as the pictures might at first suggest, on her upper back. If the belt is hitting her bottom, then isn’t the hand holding her down going to be in the way? Maybe – but, as we’ll see in a moment, there’s a good reason for that.

It was an uncomfortable scene for Ivana Jiresova, but perhaps not for the reason you think. Here’s a video of the scene as part of a selection of extracts:

And that camera angle makes it clear that, whatever is supposed to be happening to Eve, her near namesake and physical embodier Ivana is not getting the belt across her black panties: from the audience’s point of view, the action is masked by Adam’s body, but the video makes it clear that this was carefully choreographed stage violence, with none of the blows actually landing on target.

So what on Earth did Ivana have to be uncomfortable about?

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The truth is that the poor dear was embarrassed to be appearing on stage in her underwear. Bless!

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