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Joanna G. Harris
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Cal Performances: Zellerbach Auditorium
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Mummenschanz program full of silent surprises

by Joanna G. Harris
November 29, 2015
Cal Performances: Zellerbach Auditorium
101 Zellerbach Hall #4800
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
510.642.9988
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
The Swiss company, Mummenschanz, brought their engaging set of stage surprises to UC Berkeley during Thanksgiving weekend.

To the squeals of laughter and delight, the many children in the audiences applauded the images and actions of these "musicians of silence."

The curtains were opened by two huge gloves, an initial surprise. Size matters in all subsequent events: a bean bag then almost rolls off the stage; linear forms then seem to become chairs, then boxers, then nosey bodies. A gigantic balloon was sent into the audience for many hands to return. Globs of plastic form new faces of a fighting duo.

The first half of these events create wonder and fascination in the audience. But after a very dull episode during which audience members were invited to paste strips of adhesive tape on a black box mask, the program dissolved into “more of the same.” Yes, it was fun to see rolls of blue and pink toilet paper used as a courting devise. Yes, the performer who had on elongated legs and arms that flailed like an octopus was intriguing. How to they manage all the effects?

Mummenschanz apparently means "cover" and "chance." The group came from the Jacques Lecoque school in Paris dedicated to physical theater. After 43 years they still bring silent surprises to the stage.

The performers were Florian Frassetto, Sara Francesca Hermann, Oliver Pfulg and Giovanni Colombo. The artistic director was Floriaa Frasetto. The technical directors, who deserve many kudos, were Eric Sauge and Dino 'Chico' de Maio.

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