YOUNG WORLD

Shapes and shadows

PAROMITA PAIN

An artistic expression.

An artistic expression.  

At first there was only inky darkness. Then across the sea of intense soundless blackness, cut across the Mummenschanz Next performance that was a delightful cross between poetry and mime, theatre and puppetry.

Mummenschanz Next is the latest evolution of the wordless theatrical form that was invented by the original Mummenschanz trio in 1972. Since that time, they have continued to devise from everyday materials, exquisitely animated shapes and fantastic creations that have become its signature. John Murphy and Raffaella Mattioli joined founders Bernie Sch�rch and Floriana Frassetto for this production, giving Mummenschanz a company of four performers for the first time.

Expressive masks made of rubber, dustpans, curtains, bendable sticks, austere costumes and bubbles form a part of the props that can be effectively moulded to create shapes that tell a story, or perform actions replete with meanings. The trick, as the performers wordlessly enunciated, lay in injecting individuality and character in these objects that at first sight look so ordinary, and turning them into magical, fantastic forms.

Though soundless, the players on stage engaged in effective repartee, with an attentive audience, effortlessly through various situations of slapstick humour that was an important element.

They began with intangible and nebulous shapes that gradually evolved into more recognisable though not necessarily human figures.

This performance wasn't just about figures that could be broken down and built again. Combining organic and geometric elements, the presentation also demanded an audience that could sense the drama hidden behind these forms developing and changing to communicate with the performers on stage.

With a consistent sense of fun and imagination, Mummenschanz has transcended the barriers of language and nationality to achieve an art form that remains universal in its appeal.

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