translated by Cathy Porter and Peter Majer
The Insect Play (or Ze života hmyzu in the Czech) is an unconventional and much-celebrated satire which tells the story of myriad insects and the multi-layered and complex society which binds them; its comical allegory serves illuminate the competing philosophies of life doing battle in Europe in the first half of the twentieth century.
Writing in their translator’s introduction, Peter Majer and Cathy Porter point out that ‘the play’s visceral theatricality, playful language and wealth of strong acting parts make it a director’s dream, and it is one of the most performed of all Čapek’s stage creations in the English-speaking world . . . With their tiny eyes, their powerful jaws, their capacity to kill or suck dry, to be blown away or crushed, Čapek’s insects are repulsive yet human, and as they scurry effortlessly between the human and insect worlds they show human passions, instincts and vices, and the bloody lusts which make human intelligence hideous.'
The Insect Play was first performed in Prague in 1922.