Hans was Heiri, Barbican Theatre, London
Thursday 24 January 2013
Hans was Heiri is built around a rotating house. The set looks like a dolls’ house, a square of four rooms with simple furniture. Then it starts to spin. The performers stay upright as the floor tilts under them, until gravity sends them tumbling from room to room.
Appearing as part of the London International Mime Festival, the show was created by choreographer Martin Zimmermann and composer Dimitri de Perrot, both festival regulars. In Hans was Heiri they put six acrobat-performers through a series of transformations and tangles. They switch costumes, quarrel, teach yoga classes and hide in boxes.
The set design and acrobatics are impressive, but performances can be irritatingly winsome. Zimmermann himself is one of the worst offenders. He’s a skilled acrobat, holding precarious balances and falling with split-second timing, but he telegraphs his effects. Similarly, contortionist Methinee Wongtrakoon can tie herself in knots, but keeps up an exasperating stream of little giggles, gurning in wide-eyed wonder.
The performers switch personalities, arguing with each other or pursuing their own obsessions. These character scenes go on too long, milking the jokes, though the material is inventive.
Hans was Heiri is strongest when it stops trying so hard to be wacky. The most deadpan artists are the most impressive. Mélissa Von Vépy, a wonderfully serene aerialist, floats around the house. She hangs from her knees from the set, pulled into a great circle as it turns, casually picking up a fellow performer as she goes.
Dimitri de Perrot mixes the soundtrack live on stage. The show starts with audience chatter, the real conversations in the auditorium blending into the recorded sound of the same thing. Then Perrot starts chopping and looping it, turning it into rhythms that get the show moving.
The house brings out the best in everybody, as they dodge falling furniture or stay insistently seated on chairs that have turned upside down. Leaning into the slope, they hold themselves at impossible angles. A man leaning against a wall finds himself lying down, then sliding across a tilting floor to bump his head on what used to be the ceiling. Another runs clings to the outside of the house, running to stay on top as it picks up speed.
Until 26 January. Box office 0844 848 5226. London International Mime Festival runs until 27 January; www.mimelondon.com
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 As an ex prostitute, I urge all the political parties to commit to the Sex Buyer Law
- 2 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 3 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Goodfellas star Frank Sivero sues for $250m over Simpsons character
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Silly, sensational and sensitive
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
MOBO awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board with four gongs
The Apprentice, episode 3 - review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with another double elimination
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'