Sunday, November 21, 2010


I can't believe I'd never seen this famous Swiss theatre company, and jumped at the chance to see them this afternoon at Irvine Barclay Theatre. The four 60 and 70-something actors are remarkably spry and produce illusions that demand the audience to use its imagination muscles in ways they probably never have. Though the 90 minute show (with one intermission) gets a bit repetetive, it is mostly comprised of 1-2 minute scenes involving extraordinary costumes & props. They are remarkably un-PC when it comes to scenes involving violence and sex (however mild)--especially for a show marketed for kids & families. No bother: the audience adored them, and was comprised of all ages. I would have to say it is equal parts puppetry and mime--with large scale masks and devices manipulated in clever ways. Mummenschanz has been around since the 1970s, and is the sole non-spoken word theatre company to have succeeded on Broadway (a three year run). Others have emulated and built upon their work, but Mummenschanz is the real deal: high art that doubles as mass entertainment. You can't beat that combination.

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