Familie Floez, Hotel Paradiso

Review in Issue 21-2 | Summer 2009

Even the dreariest of onomatopoeia typically brightens our existence. But with the ‘swoosh’ that was heard as the house lights dimmed in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on a cold night in January, something truly remarkable happened. Though perhaps not the loudest, it was probably the most significant ‘swoosh’ yet witnessed by those present. For with that sound we entered the world of Familie Floez, and once there, were able to discover what a profoundly fantastic place that world has the possibility to be.

For the first half hour, little happens in the way of narrative development; we merely witness the goings on in a small, family-run hotel in the mountains of continental Europe. But in such simple comings and goings are things marvellous and absorbing to witness.

From the barefooted spiritualist to the precocious daughter, each character is defined in seconds by the precise actions of these remarkable performers. Such a highly physical performance style, when placed in conjunction with the costume and masks, creates a rich, distinctly visual world, communicating recognisable characters that we can’t help but care about.

As the piece develops, narrative plays a greater part; there are deaths, aborted love, bank robbers, and a magic fountain of wondrous water. Yet, dramatic though some of this may sound, it’s the subtle movements that created the world at the very start of the piece that linger most.

From the opening audio to the delight of the curtain call, Hotel Paradiso is a masterclass in what visual theatre can be. The masks, the sound, the direction – each performance component has been painstakingly developed and yet, somehow, the whole still manages to be greater than the sum of its parts. Glorious theatre.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2009

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-2
p. 28