7 March 2011 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Magical Mummenschanz

“You can do it”, I thought as I watched with bated breath as an animated brown blob tried to heave and wriggle itself onto a block. With an enormous effort it succeeded, only to have its momentum topple it over the other side, where it lay, defeated. I identified with it immediately.

The blob was the first of dozens of extraordinary ‘characters’ brought to life by Swiss theatre troupe, Mummenschanz, who played to standing ovations in South Africa in 2008, and have returned for another tour.

Their imaginative shows animate a wonderful world where the comedy and drama of daily life are distilled into simple gestures. Inspired by primitive art and the carnival aesthetic, the Mummenschanz troupe has perfected an innovative form of physical theatre in which the mundane - boxes, a giant slinky, some reflectors - assume expressions, take on personalities and connect with the audience in a very personal way. With just a few lines, simple movements and some clever lighting, things like sheets of fabric, foam, piping and even toilet paper become characters that smile, cry, tease and share their stories.

This silent masquerade of characters across the stage at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town elicited lots of laughter from the audience. Although Mummenschanz is more than four decades old, the world they created was young, fresh and full of life.

As I watched a hopeful slinky twist, tumble and grow along the stage, like a giant puppy chasing its big red ball, I heard, in a whisper, the magic of Mummenschanz, as the man next to me couldn’t help but say what we were all feeling; “go little slinky, go.”

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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