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BWW Reviews: MUMMENSCHANZ is Marvelous

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MUMMENSCHANZ, now in its 40th year, delighted yet another audience with its iconic brilliance in a one-night performance at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, NJ on January 30.

The mime troupe performs a series of stand-on-their-own momentary segments in which the players use simple props, such as tape, balloons, and paper to convey messages, situations, and feelings. Mummenschanz, German for mummery, has no narrative and, given its genius, doesn't need one.

Some vignettes are transparent in their meaning. Two clay-faced players mold themselves and each other into various animals whose expressions would make the computer-generated emoticons of today, well, emote. I felt I was getting a subliminal lesson in sculpting.

Sometimes you had to let your imagination just run. In one story, an object that starts as something appearing to be a giant Slinky quickly morphs into an elephant. No wait. It's an Egyptian pharaoh. Now it's an enormous python! Or is a knot? Then it's a belly dancer (no doubt about that one).

In another segment, a boy and girl use the toilet paper that creates their facial features to exchange feelings and to create a floral bouquet that reinforce the concept that there could be beauty in anything.

MUMENSCHANZ's classic nature and appeal are heightened by the elegance of its simplicity. There are no computer-generated graphics or machinery, and no pyrotechnic light shows to which today's digital natives and transplants are accustomed.

Like most great works of art, MUMMENSCHANZ ignites the imagination, and inspires different people to see different things. It has a Disney World-type appeal -enjoyable for the ages for all ages. I smiled throughout this production, as I did when I first saw it 35 years ago.

The Bergen Performing Arts Center is located at 30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, NJ. Ticket information can be found at www. BergenPAC.org or by calling the Box Office at 201-227-1030.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Bergen PAC


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