above: Hotel Paradiso Photo by © Michael Vogel
Hotel Paradiso – Mask Theatre at Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Hotel Paradiso is a mask theatre show set in a modest family run hotel in the Alps – silent and very funny. Four physical actors actors from the established Berlin-based Familie Flöz mask theatre company perform three or four different characters each, so there’s never a dull moment as the staff get on with their work and a stream of guests enter the hotel seeking hospitality.
There are not so many mask shows – or good ones around these days and Hotel Paradiso is a great example, so see it while you can. Their masks cover the actors’ faces completely with exaggerated features and neutral expressions. The neutral faces make it possible for the actors to tilt their head or use their physicality to show different moods such as happy, sad, or secretive – and their reactions to each other without speaking a word. These actors are quick change artists because they change characters, masks and costumes very quickly and return to the stage looking completely different for each character.
Think of it as a day or two in the life of this hotel. The actors take time to establish who is who from the beginning – this timing offers moments that show their personalities to the audience and it’s also good mask theatre technique. They use their entire bodies to show different characters by changing their posture or gestures and by moving their head.
Slapstick features in several scenes and this ensemble is very good at justifying these sequences within their characters – this is not mindless slapstick but it adds to the story and relationships. Several doorways that are well used give a farce-like quality to the story, which moves along swiftly and takes unexpected turns – and surprises – along the way.
This hotel has an old fashioned feel to it, is in need of modernizing, but charming nevertheless. The guests are hilarious and all have their idiosyncrasies, such as the trendy lady, wealthy lady with lots of the luggage and the sweetheart. The receptionist has his own way of doing things and doesn’t mind a bit of flirting. The hotel staff and owners are generally friendly but have secrets, which add depth and dimension to the characters. A large detailed colorful set has its own nooks and crannies, as well as a secret or two, which make it fun. There are also soulful moments, which draw the audience in even more. The 75 minute show is very entertaining and relatable to all ages.
Review originally published in: www.FringeReview.co.uk