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Mummenschanz is indescribable fun

MUMMENSCHANZ, Kingsbury Hall, March 25; repeat performance tonight, 7:30 p.m. (581-7100, 355-2787 or 1-888-451-2787). Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (one intermission).

Mummenschanz is . . . sort of . . . kind of . . . a lot like . . . but it's not . . . it's different from . . . but it has elements of . . . in a different way.

How do you describe the indescribable?

Well, we could use words like fun. Entertaining. Different. Thoroughly enjoyable. Surprising. Humorous. No, funny. Weird, but in a good way. And the four-person team of performers caught and kept the attention of a Kingsbury Hall audience that ranged from maybe 4 to maybe 84.

As promised, Mummenschanz "talked to everybody individually," as founding member Bernie Schurch said during an interview before the show. "The picture that you see provokes something different for your neighbor."

And you could hear members of the audience offering opinions to their neighbors about what they were seeing. One teenager insisted, "It's a bird," when, frankly, it couldn't have looked less like a bird to me.

But where else can you see mimes (or are they puppeteers?) dressed up as, well, sort of giant fortune cookies? And see one giant fortune cookie trying to kiss the other? Or something that looks like a giant Hershey's kiss that suddenly becomes a billowing ocean on which a ship sails into a storm?

Would you believe a piece of cardboard that calls for applause, laughs and scratches itself?

Mummenschanz was all that and more on Tuesday night.

Talk about making funny faces. Mummenschanz's clever costumes offer a variety of faces — and masks that sort of suggest faces — that could be manipulated and changed into different forms, different expressions, different moods. But the mood in the auditorium was one of delight.

The show runs just short of 90 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission, but it seemed much quicker than that Tuesday. As the members of the Mummenschanz flowed from one bit to the next, the time just flew by.

It was only in the closing moments that Schurch, Floriana Frassetto, Raffaella Mattioli and John Charles Murphy revealed their faces to the audience. Which was about 90 minutes after they began revealing their magic.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com