It’s that time of year when many families take their kids to a special holiday performance. Often they choose The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, or maybe a large-scale Broadway-type show. I would like to suggest something completely different: Mummenschanz.
Now in their 40th year, Mummenschanz is a unique and innovative Swiss mime troupe with the uncanny ability to entertain audiences of all ages and cultures. My seven year old proclaimed it one of the best shows he has ever seen and judging by the amount of giggles in the audience I would guess many of the other kids felt the same.
The performers use masks and puppetry to create playfully suspenseful spectacles ranging from lovers with toilet paper for faces, anthropomorphic slinkys, malleable faces and giant beating hearts. Yet, underneath this silly madness lies a deep ocean of knowledge about human behavior and a genuine pathos of understanding.
It is precisely this exquisite layering of emotion that makes Mummenschanz perfect for families: kids will enjoy giggling at the absurdity of an amorphous blob trying its hardest to climb a ramp, but adults with relate to the satirical and Sisyphus-like tragedy of the endeavor.
Mummenschanz represents all that I love about the theater and its power to communicate across age, gender and cultural lines. If I haven’t yet convinced you of the sheer delight of attending a Mummenschanz performance I can only refer you to one of the many YouTube videos so you can take a look for yourselves to see what it’s all about.
Details: Mummenschanz plays at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing arts through January 6th. After that they tour to several other states in the US including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas and New Jersey. They briefly make an appearance in Canada before heading off to Europe. I know this blog has readers all over the country and world, so I hope you take a look at their schedule to see if they will be headed your way.
The show consists of about 20 sketches, is recommended for ages 6 and up, and is just under 2 hours with one intermission. If you see them, come back here and tell me about your experience!
Disclosure: I received two tickets to a Mummenschanz performance, but all opinions are my own (or my son’s). Rest assured that my love of Mummenschanz is genuine! I received no other compensation.