Mummenschanz, Next

Review in Issue 17-4 | Winter 2005

Meaning ‘masquerade’ or ‘mummery’ Mummenschanz was formed in the 70s expressly to create image-based, wordless theatre. At the matinee my seven year-old companion and I attended, the audience were not, conversely, at a loss for words. Perhaps invited by the performer’s silence, they wondered aloud about what they saw. This added a vital, often inadvertently comic, dimension to the performance, and was clearly an expression of the audience’s enjoyment. The children’s interpretations were often quicker than mine as if the show’s playful nature was tuned to their perception of the world.

Made up of a series of short sketches (presented in a puppetry black-theatre style), it began with abstract characters with hidden operators, but gradually became more figurative, until the performers’ bodies emerged, becoming part of the images. The results were often beautiful, frequently funny, and wisely stayed on stage only as long as they were interesting. A clever use of materials was evident throughout, from flying fabric to wobbling foam, with a happy marriage of form and colour, and masterful use of lights, I loved the more abstract pieces, but missed what music might have added to their performance, My niece preferred when wire shapes, worn over the performers heads, drew changing expressions, although in one exchange when the mimed conversation became laborious, she whispered ‘Why don’t they just talk?’, showing, in this instance, a failure of their brief. Reservations were rare, however; it was a magical experience, vociferously enjoyed by its audience of all ages.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-4
p. 30