An hour and a quarter of never-ending fun.- 29/09/2011.
La Seca.- Espai Escénic.- Barcelona.
Andreu Sotorra, Radio Estel.
There are only three of them, but they kick up more rumpus that a whole battalion. They certainly do not hide the fact they are eccentric, because they even call themselves by this name, so the audience can expect just about anything. The most difficult thing is to know how they will surprise their audience at a time when circus clowns’ acts have been recopied and recycled over and over again. Well, they are surprising, because Marceline, Sylvestre and Zaza, the three stage names used by Marceline Kahn, Josep Ventura and Didier Armbruster respectively, have spent many years performing as clowns and they have not only performed in marquees or on stages at local festivals and in circus rings but have also performed on theatre stages during their career spanning more than thirty years.
“Rococó Bananas” is a theatrical production that captivates the little ones and delights grown ups too. An hour and a quarter of never-ending fun, practically without words, with a great deal of handicraft music, a touch of some traditional clown numbers from bygone days, which they alter and restructure with other touches from the company’s own acts with a great sense of timing and adaptation to an area that should not be confused with a circus ring because other conditions and another kind of contact with the audience is required in a theatre.
Los Excéntricos have an advantage over other clown companies: right from the first time they appear on the stage the three characters manage to captivate the audience’s interest simply when they see their aesthetics and the way they each perform. Marceline is really an essential clown in the corporation. Sylvestre provides his own quality of performance and linguistics, a detail that is also a rather unusual feature of the clown trade .And Zaza… Ah yes! Zaza… ! Is there anybody that can imitate a character like him? I don’t think so. He is unique. Remarkable. From his silence, only with a theatrical naïve laugh, with just a glance, Zaza has the audience eating out of his hand. He is like a flesh and blood character straight out of comic.
The three of them feel right at home with their performance, but there seems to be an invisible net curtain that changes this first impression and makes them enter in a fantastic world. The piano, a white rigged piano, is the central piece in “Rococó Bananas”. The show begins with a concert using different size cowbells – the kind Swiss cows have hanging round their necks, – and is one of the musical gems offered by the three members of this company.
Music is the thread that runs through the whole show: a musical saw, a mop that becomes an electric bass, accordions with different features, mandolins… and a prima donna who thinks the stage is a catwalk, but relies on the complicity of her companions and the audience, who easily excuse her for not having much talent for singing, another of the ironies of the script, because clowns are– and have always been - in some way, the personification of human misery and stupidity.
There are even circus ring acts, performed with a touch of humour, as in the case of the spinning plates, with absolute pandemonium included, or Marceline’s skill at juggling balls. However, above all, the more theatrical numbers should be mentioned, how Marceline climbs onto a pedestal then unexpectedly tumbles into it – and we don’t mean Montserrat Caballé here!
Other scenes lead to an enriching experience for new spectators: The skull that could be straight from hamlet, but actually refers to Romeo and Juliet; the skeletal puppet in an excellent number handling string puppets; The imitation of a French singer, whose name she can’t quite recall, but whose song La Vie en Rose she wants to sing; Zaza’s act with the glass of champagne, after making a toast; the chaos of the piano legs and the seat … and the end of the party with the usual “curtain calls”, because the show was to a large extent a musical: a ruckus of slapstick humour that shows the surprise of the “slaps” to those that have never seen them before. And as a finale, the catwalk with Marceline’s latest “dress design”, a soft dress covered with an umbrella fitted with a sprinkler system. An elegant, funny, well-meaning show that the little ones watch with wide eyes opened, with the right questions about what they are watching and what is revealed through this fictional work from some of the tricks that help theatre to keep alive.
Andreu Sotorra, Radio Estel.