Mummenschanz | Eccles Center for the Performing Arts | Theater | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Mummenschanz Staff Pick

When: Sat., April 4, 7:30 p.m. 2015
Phone: 435-655-3114
Email: boxoffice@ecclescenter.org
Price: $20 and up
ecclescenter.org/portfolio-items/mummenschanz-saturday-april-4-2015
Pantomime is similar to mime, in that both art forms eschew dialogue in favor of bodily expression. Mime, though, relies heavily on facial expression to convey emotions and tell stories, whereas straight pantomime typically involves masks that hide those natural expressions, forcing performers to utilize their entire bodies. The beloved Mummenschanz performing-arts company is classically neither, while simultaneously being both. Mostly considered, though, to be more on the "panto" side of the equation, this Swiss company performs without any musical accompaniment. They also use surreal shapes and forms—nondescript blobs and tubes—to mostly hide the performers, while imbuing those inanimate objects with human emotions and feelings. At first it feels a bit odd when, say, a giant Slinky-shaped being appears behind the raised curtain and begins to simply move around the stage. There are no huge crescendos, nothing big and bold besides the surreal image of this non-creature. But that surreal sensibility has defined Mummenschanz as a theatrical performance that feels both retro and modern. Which is fitting, because the company has been performing regularly since its inception in the 1970s. Back then, the art form was unique enough to inspire a long-running and celebrated stint on Broadway. Today, it still feels surprisingly fresh. Yes, they've updated certain routines, and newly engineered materials for the blob-like costumes have certainly helped the illusion. But ultimately, it's that original odd aesthetic (e.g., two human forms with electrical outlets for heads—one a socket, the other a plug—involved in an intricate dance) that keeps the company relevant. (Jacob Stringer)

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