TEATRO DELUSIO is theatre in the theatre. On the other side three stage technicians work in the backstages‘ darkness. Their lives, which usually remain hidden, now recede into the light. Separated from the radiant stars on stage by nothing more than a sparse scenery the three untiring helpers are fighting for their own happiness in a different universe. Yet in a magical way the glamorous world of pretence connects and is blended with the down to earth life backstage. TEATRO DELUSIO is once again the art to say everything without a single word.
I really really loved this show – it was created and performed by an extraordinary cast of geniuses that reached far beyond the three incredible performers who graced the stage. Whoever made the masks should be knighted, and I imagine that the director has no small talent to finely choreograph such a piece.
Familie Floz performs mask theatre, and they tell all sorts of stories with it, from the comedic to the painfully tragic. As is perhaps most fitting for an 11am slot on the Sunday morning of a festival, I am happy to say (as it as all my sleep deprived brain could take) Teatro Delusio was largely a comedy.
The premise was simple and the set impressively elaborate for a tent in a field; we were watching the back stage of a theatre. The wooden wings were there, and the lights came on and off with the music as the performers graced the stage we never saw.
Every character in the play was masked, and they were these wonderfully expressive and fabulously human creations, that were just a little bit grotesque but nowhere near cartoonish. The masks so wonderfully reflected the characters they were depicting that I remember them better than the human faces of any other production I saw this festival.
Anyone who has ever worked in a theatre in any capacity will immediately recognise the finely crafted techies in their utility waistcoats and black trousers. These were the stars of the show – with their petty rivalries and dirty tricks playing out as the prima donnas stalked past them on their way to glory.
There were an incredible 29 masked characters in this play, performed by three utterly brilliant performers. One was short, and so delicately feminine as they danced around as a ballerina or opera singer, that it was almost impossible to believe that there was a taut male body underneath that tutu. The other two were tall and slim, and no doubt swapped characters at times to allow the magnificent mechanics of entrances and exits to play out.
Quite how the insanely fast costumes changes were able to happen is beyond me, but with each change of mask was a change of outfit, including shoes and tights, happening in what felt like only seconds.
There were also moments of pure magic, with characters appearing to vanish into thin air, or an unending stream of ballerinas parading onstage, which must have involved some serious sprinting from one side of the stage to the other by the poor actor.
It is not enough however to just talk about the wonderful mechanics and mise en scene of this show. The humanity and comedy was also second to none. There were so many fabulous moments between characters – one of my favourites being the cleaning lady who happened across the somewhat brutish technician practicing his dancing. Her mask seemed to be created with such skill that she had a wry smile playing across her face whenever necessary, yet it vanished as soon as she swiftly picked up her bucket and walked offstage.
As I write my final paragraph, I realise that I haven’t yet mentioned that in this whole performance not a word was spoken. The whole story was conveyed with gestures and movement, yet the very fact that it didn’t cross my mind to mention it until now speaks volumes about how in a work of this calibre, text and speech were irrelevant. The physicality of the performers, combined with the master craftsmanship of the masks created an entire world that could be understood by anyone, with every character meticulously drawn, every gesture laden with unspoken meaning. I can’t recommend this company highly enough.