Wunderkammer @ The Barbican Pit (London International Mime Festival 2016) Review

 

Figurentheater Tübingen is known for skilful and imaginative puppetry. Founded in 1991 by puppeteers Frank Soehnle and Karin Ersching, who studied under master puppeteer Albrecht Roser, Figurentheater Tübingen explores the limits between puppet theatre and other theatre genres such as object theatre. Elements of prose, figurative arts and music are combined to develop new theatre genres. In every performance the company pushes new limits regarding genre and content, challenging traditional theatrical disciplines. A “Wunderkammer” was once known as a cabinet of rare items and curiosities. This idea frames this evening, a fusion of visual and performing art.

Wunderkammer

A woman appears on stage. She opens a mysterious box and a pair of golden hands emerge, rising up and caressing the woman’s hair, inspired by the dreamlike music of harpsichordist Tamar Halparin and jazz pianist Michael Wollny. Next a strange transparent aquatic creature appears among a sea of soapy bubbles, exploring the space whilst the puppeteers shine flashlights on the oddity that floats through air and water. As a human caterpillar performs a curious dance with a caterpillar marionette, we are truly transported into a different world.

There is no underlying narrative. The three puppeteers – Alice Therese Gottschalk, Raphael Mürle, and Frank Soehnle – present little vignettes, short scenes to showcase one or more of their unique string marionettes creating fantastical, humorous and melancholic scenes. The little characters touch us deeply and it is due to the skill of the expert puppeteers that they become alive. Yet the performance as a whole lacks coherence at times. There are frequent interruptions and a few of the vignettes seem over-indulgent and might benefit from being shorter.

This is a gem of puppet-theatre, technically speaking, but the production is somewhat lacking as a performance. 3/5

Review written by Carolin Kopplin

Wunderkammer is  currently showing at the Barbican Pit as part of this year’s London International Mime Festival until Saturday 6th February  For information on the production, visit here…

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