Murmel Murmel

The word “Murmel” in German means marble, the little round ball, so “Murmel Murmel” are two marbles, and the big question about this production is who precisely lost theirs.

It could be author Dieter Roth, who in 1974 published a small book on 178 pages of brown paper, with only the word “Murmel” written over and over again. It could be director Herbert Fritsch, who enthusiastically came upon the book and decided in 2012 to stage it. It could be Fergus Linehan for deciding to bring this piece by the Volksbuhne Berlin to the Festival. It could be the audience, who gave the work a rapturous response. Or it could be me, who was left totally unmoved by the whole gaudy, madcap clownery that made up this piece.

Against a brightly coloured, constantly changing set, an ill-assorted group of characters in tight suits and acrylic wigs cavort, squint, stumble, and flounce, quite often falling into the orchestra pit, while repeating the word “Murmel” in different tones and styles. Sometimes it is crooned, or sung operatically, or shouted or whispered or squawked . I’ll be kind and say it was Dada-esque.

Then they appeared in tutus and did the same. Finally in bright, skin-tight full body suits, a bit of a psychedelic vibe broke out. Think Tati, think Chaplin – on acid. That the troupe of actors are supple and versatile there is no doubt. It was all done with great verve and virtuosity, but somehow came across as jejune and self-indulgent – to me. My companion loved it. The woman next to me spent a lot of time sighing and checking her phone. But at the end of the evening there was great enthusiasm in the applause. So….who has lost their marbles – must be me!


Kings Theatre until August 30th


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