Preview: Teatro Delusio
Dreams and reality blur in Familie Flöz's beautiful comedic show
Formed in 1994 by Hajo Schuler and Markus Michalkowski, Familie Flöz are a critically acclaimed German theatre company, based in Berlin since 2001, who make bold, beautiful work which is accessible for a family audience.
Proof that puppetry and masked performance can often say more than spoken scripted theatre, their show Teatro Delusio is profound, hilarious and haunting.
Fusing opera, physical theatre and some cheeky slapstick, it focuses on the frustrated lives of theatre technicians and performers from a behind-the-scenes perspective. This inversion is highly effective: all of the characters are determined to make a grand entrance and bask in the spotlight, but are thwarted at every turn, either by fate, folly, or sheer misjudgement of situations. There is an undercurrent of darkness, but never to the detriment of the storyline.
Schuler explains: 'Our play is a homage to theatre. We show what usually is invisible to audiences. Doing this, we want to tell something about what theatre is to us: a place where the power of imagination is celebrated'.
With just three actors creating 29 characters, the scope and ingenuity involved will leave the audience breathless. From the hapless gangly stagehand who just wants to read his book to the hierarchy of the orchestra, their endlessly inventive scenes will linger long in the mind.
There is sword fighting, unique choreography and tricks involving ladders, but what really impresses is the way the storyline turns – it's an ever-shifting narrative which toys with expectations. As for the use of masks, there is true innovation in the gestures, where a tilt of the head can be heartbreaking or hilarious. As Schuler says: 'A mask is like a screen, where the audience project a movie in real time.'
Social stratification, loss and romantic illusions have rarely been so intoxicating.
Pleasance Courtyard, 6–29 Aug (not 17), 1.45pm, £10.50--£14.50 (£9--£13). Previews 3–5 Aug, £8.