Forget “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”, today’s theatrical conundrum is how do I review a show like Mummenschanz? The answer is, not very easily. This show is so fantastically unique that a standard review is really difficult to put together without potentially including spoilers and thereby ruining some of the surprises for new audience members.
Anyway, let’s give it a go. I have to admit that I had never heard of Mummenschanz before this week and after a quick look on YouTube, I wasn’t really sure it was going to be my sort of thing, a feeling that was reinforced when I was told that the show was 80 minutes long with no interval! After all, could a show with no dialogue or music keep anyone interested for that long? You bet it could.
Starting with a gigantic pair of white-gloved hands, the 80 minutes flew by and I was so enraptured with what was being played out on the stage and around the auditorium, that I was actually surprised when the performers revealed themselves and took their well-deserved bows.
The show consists on the whole, of everyday objects put to extraordinary use by four amazingly talented and flexible performers. Rulers, bean bags, air conditioner hoses, pipe cleaners all make an appearance – often larger than life and doing things that, even now, seem unbelievable. Toilet rolls flirting, bin bags fighting, and my own particular favourite of the evening, a really awesome segment that had me raiding stationary stores for every pack of Blu-Tack® I could find. The audience around me ranged from youngsters under 10 to people well into the ‘third stage of life’ and every section of that audience was kept happy, laughing, applauding and spellbound for the entire duration of the show. There was one particular point when, without giving too much away, the theatre was absolutely silent – to proverbial pin drop level – and something happened on the stage that caused all the children, and one or two of the adults, to emit a hushed and reverential “wow”.
The performers didn’t just limit themselves to the stage and there was quite a bit of interaction with the audience, including one scene where the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ could probably be heard outside on the road. Lighting was used to great effect to illuminate the various scenes but ultimately this show didn’t rely on tricks or technical wizardry to deliver entertainment of the highest order.
The Mummenschanz company, under founders Floriana Frassetto and Bernie Schurch has been performing for over 40 years and haven’t been seen in the UK since 2006. This run at the Peacock is only 10 performances and if you can get a ticket, you really should get along for a theatrical experience you and your family will never forget.
Review by Terry Eastham
Mummenschanz – Musicians of Silence
The performers of Mummenschanz create inspiring and captivating illusions using colourful masks, incredible props and skilful sleight of hand, producing a magical world of possibilities, all without uttering a word. The troupe’s playful and memorable exploits display an enormously inventive use of forms, shadow and light and creative manipulation of sculptural, expressive masks. The result is a visually stunning spectacle of entertainment that is suitable for all the family to enjoy.
At the Peacock Theatre for a strictly limited Summer holiday run of only ten performances, Mummenschanz’s show Musicians of Silence offers an experience “for children who think they are adults and for adults who still believe they are children at heart.” (New York Times).
Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT
19th to 27th July 2014
Sunday 20th July 2014