Nola Rae, Mozart, Preposteroso!

Review in Issue 10-2 | Summer 1998

John Mowat and Nola Rae’s partnership must be very strong to achieve such an effortlessly fresh production as this. An astonishing mix of mime, clown and puppetry, Rae’s solo performance carries the audience from a sweltering basement theatre into the crazy world of W.A. Mozart, charting the absurdities of his life from birth to death.

Rae is best known as a mime, but it is her use of puppetry, coupled with her extraordinary and all-pervading clown spirit that is the most captivating part of the show. To begin with she plays Wolfgang’s exploitative father. All the audience see of the child-genius at this point is a plume scribbling away from inside a cot. Scores of music occasionally shoot out and are played by the ecstatic and unbelieving father. The foot-high, hilarious puppet of the baby Mozart produces endless squeals of laughter from the audience as it pounds away on the piano, nonchalantly producing the world’s greatest music. The piano itself is just a big box, made real by impeccably timed and crystal clear sound effects.

Having grown up, Mozart ingeniously switches from puppet to actor. Here Rae creates a superb character which, coupled with her great clowning skills, enables her to embrace the audience with the slightest glance. Nevertheless, there seems a slight rupture between the small, sensitive details and some of her larger movements. Having trained with Marcel Marceau, Rae has great style which, on the whole, adds to the openness and quality of her work. But there are times when the formality of the gestures almost overtake their underlying motives.

However, this is an unmissable piece which leaves you astonished when only a single performer appears at the end for a curtain call.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-2
p. 23