Sep 27, 2023

Prague Horrortheater Unveils English Premiere of ‘Master of the Trapdoors’ – A Phantom of the Opera

Cara Stevenson

Cara Stevenson

For this Halloween, “The Prague Horrortheater” company will stage one of their most successful and acclaimed plays as an English language Premiere: Master of the Trapdoors – The Story of the Phantom of the Opera, a One-Man-Show that completely leaves out the occurrences of the novel itself.

Instead, they begin with an unusual premise: The Phantom of the Opera dies.

Practical info:

Master of the Trapdoors – 20. and 21. October (with more performances to follow), 20:00 at New Visions Theater, Na Celné 508/3

Tickets here

Erik, the man behind the mask, tells the audience in his last hours of an eventful life – his time with traveling gypsies, the pirates of Southeast Asia and assassins in India, as a magician in Russia, an architect at the court of the Shah of Persia, serving the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and also recounting the Franco-Prussian War, the Paris Commune and the retreat into his own morbid refuge deep in the cellars of the Paris Opera.

So it’s not quite the story someone how only knows the more kitschy adaptations would be familiar with. And they will go a step further to once again defy audiences expectations, as the Actor playing Erik, Guglielmo Menichetti, will wear neither Mask nor Make up.

Although the novel is a literary treasure chest full of historical fantasies and meticulously researched details of French and Oriental history, most of which would be forgotten today without the book, the tale is often reduced to its various, mostly pompous adaptations.

No wonder it took Playwright Gordon L. Schmitz six years of planning himself, two of which where spend with research, dozens of Interviews with stage Magicians, Dancers, Composers and Architects, and travels to the Paris Opera itself, to finally get a grip of the Character:

“When the story was first published, Sigmund Freud had just held the first psychoanalytical conference a year before, but author Leroux managed to incorporate the newest developments and theories in the field into his story; Something that went over many people’s heads back then, and it still does today. The novel only gives us a chapter on the Phantom’s back story, that I followed so much that a fleeting mention of a historical character led me to read hole essays on the subjects!”

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And the “voice” Leroux used in his novel had to analyzed and emulated: “How does Erik speak to which character in the novel? What is their relationship, what is his goal, and how can I implement this into new scenarios?” No wonder the original Version of the play was over four hours long. “But how much can the audience even trust an unreliable narrator?”, Schmitz asks further. “How can we trust and feel for a Character without a moral compass, who does not even understand the depth of his own trauma?”

The play encapsulates themes of identity, torture within oneself and remorseless murder. No mask, no makeup, no cliché – just a show full of personal terror, the team promises.

„Working on this piece is an absolute thrill“, Director Jazmín Colibri said. “We have a great team and we can’t wait to bring this masterpiece to the stage! It’s going to be delightfully terrifying.”

And it looks like the audience will finally understand why Philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin once said: ‘With the “Phantom of the Opera”, one of the great novels about the nineteenth century, [Gaston Leroux has] helped the thriller genre to reach apotheosis.’

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