Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Beauty and Grace

Mundo Paralelo

Nofitstate Circus / National Theatre of Wales , Torch Theatre Milford Haven , March-21-11
Mundo Paralelo by Nofitstate Circus / National Theatre of Wales “Tron” whispers my neighbour to his companion within a minute of the start of National Theatre of Wales’ twelfth production. High above the audience two members of the Nofit company dangle from the Torch’s ceiling, dressed in fluorescent spider’s web head masks. The production’s last matinee has brought in a young audience. No audience is less inhibited in expressing its pleasure or otherwise. Shufflings, chatter, games of hide-and-seek even await those performers who fail to hold the attention. A visiting one-year old from Cardiff does not last the course – it is a bit hopeful- but the audience is held in rapt attention at this beautiful surprise of a show.

No Fit’s “ImMortal 2” was gothicky and punk-flavoured. Memory of that show made all the greater my unexpectedness at the sheer grace and delicacy bestowed by director Mladen Materic on “Mundo Paralelo.” The director’s Tattoo Theatre has moved from the former Yugoslavia to make its home in Toulouse. With a mission to research and create “a more subtle theatrical language” it seems to have absorbed the very best of French culture. Certainly musical director Peter Swaffer Reynolds’ music, with its long accordion sequences, has a strong French flavour to it. Gareth Jones’ lovely piano, if not actual Satie, has a strong Satie feel in its lilting notes.

Among the company of eleven Frida Odden Brinkmann’s first juggling performance includes bouncing balls off the stage. The effect is a beautiful visual pattern. On one of the corkscrew trapezes Anna Sandreuter creates shapes that are just as beguiling. George Fuller, a grown-up Stanley Bagshaw, screws his head down into his shoulders and pulls it out again. Adie Delaney radiates joy on her trapeze.

The best of performances all have their moments of wonder. Just how do the Fandino sisters, Natalia and Vanina, manage that rope descent? Miguel Muñoz transforms water into balls of glass. They roll in the palms of his hands, multiply, deliquesce again, bafflingly. All the time the act is an effortless, charming piece of wooing.

Marco Fiera in a funereal three-piece suit and bowler hat is billed as rigger and clown. When not carrying out a loose maitre d’ role he rides around the stage on a full size penny farthing.

Bruno Goubert’s lighting design casts the curtain in a ravishing blue. The design, by Tom Rack and Mladen Materic, includes trapdoors, a playful cut-out curtain and a trapeze that with the addition of curtains is transformed into a hazardous window,

The programme notes include some killer vocabulary like “deconstruct” and “embracing possibilities.” I am not so convinced of the dichotomy between circus and theatre. The much more potent ideological fault-line is that of whether or not to engage an audience in delight. Whether apposite or not as a title, “Mundo Paralelo” delights.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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