Posts Tagged ‘Bernie Schurch’

Hungry Little Fellow

Last week I viewed another splendid performance by a visual theatre group called Mummenschanz, which roughly translated means “masquerade” — and they were, the most lovable and excentric imposters ever. Having been performing for many years (since 1972), they are well-known for their imaginative and laugh-out-loud form of non-verbal theatre and has quite the reputation, so I did some poking about to read up on their history before I went to see their show.

It all started with three enthusiastic young people from Switzerland , Bernie Schürch, Andres Bossard, and Floriana Frassetto, who came together with a common goal:

To create a theatrical language that would transcend traditional barriers of nationality and culture in a fun and exciting way.

The Creators

Together they created some of the most magical beings and illusions of their time. With their extraordinary theatrical style they thrilled audiences at the Bijou Theatre on Broadway for 3 years, before taking their beloved figures and fantasy creatures on tour all over the world.

Familie Floz Group

This is the second time they have performed in South Africa, and I was eager to see how it compared to Restaurante Immortale, I had seen years prior, by one of my all time favourite visual theatre groups, the German Familie Floz Theatre Group. Restaurante Immortale took my breath away with their imaginative use of lighting, perfectly illuminating the actors’ oversized masks and altering their facial expressions throughout the performance. They also used body language, mood music and simple gestures to tell their story to the enraptured audience. Now I wanted to see if Mummenschanz would do the same.

Mummenschanz opened with a hand. Yes, that’s right, a hand — one actor, dressed in all black, except for one massive glove-like costume that covered more than half of their body. It communicated to the members of the audience without any words or music to set the mood, like some old friend who didn’t need to speak to get its message across. It went about opening curtains, waving at people, pointing, patting an audience member on the head and swallowing another whole.

Courtesy of www.theculturemom.com

Slinky Slinky

 

The show continued with a wide variety of hilarious aliens and cuddly monsters, who completely entranced the audience (myself included). We found ourselves, grown adults mind you, doubling up with laughter on watching a brown blob attempting to climb onto a step. They came and went in different shapes, versatile face masks, three-dimensional sculptural heads, and other everyday objects and materials that had been turned into abstract costumes. There were cylindrical critters that played ball with the audience, bin bag men who had a punch-up, and black velvet lady, who needed the assistance of the audience to create her face with masking tape.

These wonderful things seemed to engage us in a wordless dialogue as they slid, wobbled and bounced about on stage. What was most impressive was the giant living blob that taunted the audience and then when the audience taunted back, it formed a large angry face and tugged at our heartstrings when it shyly turned away, only to be reduced to a deflated heap of rubber.

Face to Face

The optical illusions in this piece are excellent, the simplistic lighting was superb and the best of all was that all these creatures were performed by two of the original creators, Bernie Schürch and Floriana Frassetto, as well as Raffaella Mattioli and Pietro Montandon, who joined their company in 2000, after long-time friend and co-founder, Andres Bossard, passed away in 1992. They are incredibly fit for their age and their creativity astounds everyone who watches their dream world unfold on stage.

Blobtastic

Mummenschanz is truly magical and easy viewing for all age groups. Even described by David Copperfield as being “truly magical”, this visual poem will leave you with a childish grin on your mug.

A special thanks to Baxter Theatre for a lovely night with many well deserved laughs. We hope to have many more!