When film director Milo‰ Forman was forced to leave Czechoslovakia, he left behind his family. After he'd gone, twin sons Matûj and Petr began their own film careers as child actors in Czech cinema. In 2008, a public family reunion took place when the three Formans staged JiŤí Such˘ and JiŤí ·litr's charming '60s musical A Walk Worthwhile (DobŤe placená procházka) at the National Theatre. It's still playing in rep there, and worth seeing, but the twins also work elsewhere in the Republic's theatre and movie industry. When they're not working in front of the cameras or backstage, the siblings can be found on the Mystery Boat (http://formanstheatre.cz), where they create their greatest work.
Every summer and autumn for nearly a decade, the Formans have cruised the narrow, landlocked coasts of Bohemia, primarily on the Vltava and Labe rivers, bringing their brand of theatre to the hinterlands by inviting the locals to step on board their craft and see shows in its 170-capacity theatre (every seat comes equipped with a life vest).
Their growing reputation is such that the Mystery Boat has also successfully anchored in far-flung ports of call such as Antwerp. It's understandably popular, so be sure to buy tickets in advance.
Barokní opera, the brothers' most famous piece, is one of the first examples of Czech opera, written by an 18th-century organist called Karel Loos. Bearing the catchy subtitle A Czech Opera about a Comically Small Crooked-Looking Chimney Built by Masons, or The Quarrel Between the Landlord and the Masons, the piece follows the struggle between an entrepreneur and a gang of slipshod masons responsible for putting up a dodgy chimney.
In the hands of the Formans, the opera becomes a slapstick epic for puppets and live performers. The playing area itself is a miniature mock-up of a classic Baroque stage, populated by a variety of puppets, from antique marionettes to hand puppets; masked actors continually intrude upon the grotesqueries that ensue. Film director Míra Janek made a movie of the piece, which serves as a documentary on the Formans' creation and as a stunning small film in its own right.
When the brothers are off touring, the Boat is still afloat with kindred companies: the staged punkery of Divadlo Aqualung and the excellent Husa na Provázku (Goose on a String). But with its cosy hull bar and charming Formanesque touches, such as stained-glass tables in the theatre, the boat merits a visit in its own right.