'Murmurs' - Aurélia Thierrée & Victoria Thierrée Chaplin
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
The Chaplin dynasty continues on its merry way, its latest offering being this piece of visual theatre from Charlie’s granddaughter Aurelia, directed by his daughter Victoria.
Murmurs is a misleading translation of the original French title which was Murmures des Murs (The Murmurs of Walls), which would have provided a key to a show difficult to interpret otherwise. It consisted of a 70 minute series of scenic transformations and visual and corporeal tricks which, while ingenious and inventive, were inconsequential, held together with only the flimsiest of storylines in the form of the dreams of a beautiful young girl fallen into a dreamscape, hemmed in by everyday objects and materials (acres of bubble-wrap), odd items of furniture and workmen’s appurtenances – her whole world in a constant state of change. Variety in the staging was also provided by immensely tall painted cloths depicting an insubstantial French townscape (the ‘walls’ of the title).
There was a great deal of hide and seek among the scenery and the objects, the players diminutive among the tall and wide artefacts, appearing and disappearing in a manner which must have seemed magical (and familiar) to the children. There were few puppets recognisable as such, but the whole show was puppetesque, all the things onstage having a fantasy life of their own. Aurelia herself, mercurial and gamine, was at the centre of the action most of the time, with support and occasional substitution by two handsome and acrobatic young men, Magnus Jakobsson and Jaime Martinez.
I did not find the sheer delight that Aurelia's previous show, Aurelia’s Oratorio, or that her mother Victoria’s Cirque Invisible brought me. There was a certain monochrome feel to the scenography and a certain sameness in the transformations, and not enough variety in the pace of the whole. But it was nevertheless funny, charming and original, and the sophisticated six year-old who saw the show with me pronounced it the best she had seen over the Christmas season – and she had seen several. She and most of the audience gave it a rapturous reception.