Murmurs, QEH - Spear's Magazine

Murmurs, QEH

We older more cynical spectators are left marvelling not only at her elegance

It’s been a long time since I saw a properly crafted theatrical production filled with illusion, puppetry, acrobatics, circus tricks, ingenious mime and imaginative visual theatre which astounds and delights the whole audience.

Murmurs (despite sounding like an attempt at an upper-class chocolate range from Thorntons) is the latest offering by Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter, the ever-so French Aurélia Thierrée at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The name is actually from the French expression of “Les murmures des murs” and delightfully, a French theme resonates throughout. The choice of music, costumes and European vignettes gives it a sophisticated and Bohemian edge and I’m sure at one point Aurelia is wearing a little black dress by Agnes B.

I saw Aurelia’s Oratorio at The Lyric Hammersmith in 2005 and remember marvelling at this coquettish brunette spinning on those stunning red silks from up on high. Graceful and elegant, she returns with her feet slightly more on the ground but with an even more surreal and magical show.

The scene opens with Aurelia popping bubblewrap while busy removal men pack up her home. Boxes and bubble wrap are strewn around and half hearted attempts at packing defy her. When a vase doesn’t fit into one box, the solution is to smash it into pieces to make sure it does. There. These cute touches tickled me especially since I’ve seen just about every theatrical trick in the book. The bubblewrap makes many returns as various fantastical creatures pursuing and engulfing her as she disappears then materialises from one surreal scene to the next.

The show is also cheeky about revealing how certain tricks are achieved and then revelling in them. At one point Aurelia dances on a tiny table, steps off the side only to be suspended in mid-air. Sometimes we are taken to quite dark places: an old drunk (whom she controls) tries to seduce her and another scene hinting at an asylum is slightly disturbing but fleeting and certainly beyond clever.

As much as it amuses the younger ones with some fabulous slapstick and characterisation, we older more cynical spectators are left marvelling not only at her elegance, the imaginative scenes but at the technically brilliant team she is supported by.

Also a tip for New Years Eve I suggest going to see “Gaby Young and other Animals” at the Royal Festival Hall. I saw this girl perform at the Chelsea Arts Club over a year ago (before she shot to fame). She is eccentric, quirky, clever and hugely entertaining; her music, an alternative mix of Goulag, folk and cabaret. Gaby Young is only part of the line up of an eclectic mix of cabaret, silent disco and beat boxing. Ticketholders gain exclusive access to the Festival Terrace which gives you best vantage point for the New Years fireworks. There that’s my plug done; pass the champagne.

by Melinda Hughes

Murmurs runs until 2 January 2012
Gaby Young and Other Animals Royal Festival Hall 7pm-2am £80