The original comedy play ‘Jack’s Cake’ slices its way onto a Prague stage

One of the cast members of 'The Office' wrote the play while waiting on the set and decided to revive it during the pandemic.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 20.04.2023 14:00:00 (updated on 20.04.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

An original play written by one of the cast members of the British version of “The Office” will run for four shows at Divadlo Kolowrat. “Jack’s Cake” tells the tale of an unhappily married man who decides to arrange an affair through a website – with comedic but disastrous results.

Brian Stewart, who acts under the stage name Ben Bradshaw, is best known locally for his work to bring the famous Jára Cimrman comedy plays to an English-speaking audience as part of the Cimrman English Theatre.

“Jack’s Cake” is at Divadlo Kolowrat on April 28 and 29 and May 5 and 6 at 7 p.m., in English with Czech surtitles. Tickets are available via Goout.

He has a side project called Eesk Comedy Theatre for contemporary works. His original play “Jack’s Cake” stars local actor Michael Pitthan, who recently had a small role in the Oscar-winning film “All Quiet on the Western Front.” The cast also includes television and film actor Gabriel Andrews, who starred in the Australian sketch series “Comedy Inc.,” as well as actresses Abigail Rice and Rebecca Riiseness, both of whom also have stage and screen experience.

In the play, Jack arranges to meet an American woman named Tara in a hotel, but things immediately begin to go wrong.

“Although ‘Jack’s Cake’ has farcical elements, it is not a farce. It is a comedy about relationships; not only the relationships we have with our spouses or partners, but the relationships we have with other people and how those relationships can change depending on the circumstances,” Stewart said.

Written between scenes on 'The Office' set

Stewart wrote “Jack’s Cake” while acting in “The Office,” which he described as a wonderful experience.

“I learned a lot – not just about writing but acting, too; however, we spent just a lot of time just sitting around doing very little,” he said. He wasn’t very enthusiastic about appearing in the second series of the show.

“Then I thought, well I could sit at home and write – or I could take my laptop on to the set and write my play and get paid to do it, too. And that's exactly what I did. So, the first draft of ‘Jack's Cake’ was completed during the filming of the second series of ‘The Office,’” he said.

Brian Stewart a.k.a. Ben Bradshaw in 'The Office,' far right with arms folded. Photo: BBC, IMDB.Com
Brian Stewart a.k.a. Ben Bradshaw in 'The Office,' far right with arms folded. Photo: BBC, IMDB.Com

The play, originally called “Webbed Feat,” had a small tour of theaters in the UK, and even though it was well received, its progress stalled.

Revived over Zoom during lockdown

“The play hit a brick wall and then remained unopened on my hard drive for some time – that is until lockdown,” Stewart said. He saw that many theater companies were performing live over the internet.

“I recruited several well-known, talented local actors and set to work rehearsing and rewriting the play, which was presented as a Zoom production in April 2021. The performance turned out to be a great success with people watching in 16 countries. We decided that once the Covid epidemic was over, we would present a staged live version so that’s where we are now,” he said.

Zoom performances, though, are no substitute for experiencing live theater in person. “We hope people who saw the zoom version and liked it will come back to see this production that is fuller, richer more colorful, and more importantly in 3D,” Stewart said.

He hopes to add “Jack’s Cake” to the Eesk Comedy Theatre repertoire and also bring back previous shows such as “The Regina Monologues,” a play about the wives of Henry VIII that they performed before the pandemic.

“Jack’s Cake” will be presented with Czech surtitles in an effort to bring it to a wider audience. "We feel it is a play that will work very well in Czech; and production in Czech is a possibility we are exploring since we feel that there is not enough crossover between Czech and English speaking-theaters. It is something we definitely need to look at in the future,” Stewart said.

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