Marcel Marceau

Review in Issue 9-2 | Summer 1997

In the aftermath of the second world war, a silent spirit appeared, helping people to forget for a moment the differences, the aggression, the horror of political abuse. Marcel Marceau made people dream. Fifty years on he still does. Ageless behind his white mask, Marceau’s public return time and again to become themselves, ageless.

This time they came to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Marceau’s performing career. The well loved ‘monstre sacre’ gave them a splendid bouquet of pieces ranging from The Trial and The Public Garden to Bip the Lion Tamer and Bip and the Dating Service. Some critics argue that Marceau does not comment specifically on modern life, but an artist is only obligated to follow his intuition. Marceau doesn’t worry about the temporary. He dives to the essence of a situation and creates his own theatre of the absurd where reality is never what we expect. His style and work are very personal, and, unfortunately, badly imitated around the globe by performers lacking his tremendous comic timing, his ability to create an illusion without complacency and his poetic suspension.

After this moving performance, we visited him in the dressing room. Amidst a sea of champagne and admirers, Marceau stood holding a silver plate given to him on stage by Steven Berkoff in recognition of his fifty year career. He paused when we floated past and, to our great pleasure, and perplexity, he told us a very funny, touching and private anecdote about Ètienne Decroux. We hope this ‘Decrouxian’ conversation can go on forever.

Marcel Marceau is a legend, one of the most recognisable people on the planet. And he is a mime, a much battered word of infinite possible development. Even though many of us have a totally different way of exploring this artform, one can only admire this extraordinary performer.

Artforms
Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1997

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-2
p. 24