Saturday, 29 August 2015

Murmel Murmel

King's Theatre
Five stars

The red carpet that adorns centre-stage as the audience enter the auditorium for Herbert Fritsch's production of Dieter Roth's previously presumed to be unstagable concrete poetry epic may suggest a formal air for what's about to follow. The absurdist game of peek-a-boo that nudges its way from the wings, however, points to something altogether wilder. There's a flappy arm here, a distended leg there, and manic shapes thrown pretty much everywhere over the next eighty minutes of prat-falling Dadaist slapstick.

Given that Roth's 178 page text consists of just one word, the eponymous 'murmel', there is no end of fun to be had in what is a meticulously choreographed riot involving eleven retro-clad performers overseen by a conductor dressed in a military uniform who supplies the live soundtrack of marimba-led exotica. At times it's a physical symphony involving sketch-like movements that morph into lounge bar bump n' grind and B-52-wigged girl band routines, at others it's an increasingly ridiculous chant as the performers goose each other or else stumble and tumble into the orchestra pit.

With Fritsch also designing his production for the Volksbuhne, Berlin, as the ensemble interact with a series of rapidly moving walls, it's as if the spirits of Jacques Tati, Vic Reeves, Hugo Ball and 1950s cartoon hero Gerald McBoing Boing had been fused to make a nonsense chorus line.

Beyond such fun and games there is something knowingly subversive about taking a piece of hardcore avant-garde art like this out of the gallery to write it large on a global platform. As a piece of radical entryism, Murmel Murmel is both sublime and gloriously ridiculous.

The Herald, August 29th 2015

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