familiefloez-infinita_5_evy_schubertThe enchanting, joyful, Infinita by Berlin based, Familie Flöz provided another dose of cultural delight, courtesy of the Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival.

familiefloez-infinita_2_la_strada_grazInfinita is about the beginning and end of things. A puzzle of life and death in which the first struggles of a baby and scenes from childhood, are interwoven with moments from the end of life. The play debuted in 2006, and ten years of performance and stellar reviews prove that the story is timeless.

Not an evening to dally over a pre-show tipple – entering the theatre, the action had already begun. On screen a shadow theatre; masked figures sealed a coffin, dug a grave and we watched a procession of mourners, complete with children and dogs.  In attentive silence, the audience found its seats, already captivated.

The four masked actors delivered an array of enchanting characters. With so much communicated in every gesture and posture, it’s difficult to believe that no words were spoken, let alone a complete absence of facial expression. Familie Flöz devises theatre with the understanding that all conflicts first manifest themselves physically and this physical conflict is the origin of all drama. Sure enough, throughout the performance, dilemma, motivations, alliances and conflicts were always crystal clear. One of most enchanting scenes was simply a baby learning to stand, hauling himself up by the crib rails, wobbling, falling. The story captured by the actor’s astounding and minute observation, told with total physical and emotional accuracy.

Infinita plays with moments of humanity that are instantly recognisable. A moving farewell as an old man arrives at a nursing home, contrasts with the frustrated nurse dealing with the hilarious antics of her demanding geriatrics. The dynamics of conflict and play within a family of children. Three old men seated on a park bench relentlessly adjusting the antenna on the portable radio, which turns into one of the most entertaining and fantastical scenes of the evening.

Music was a critical and wonderful part of the production. The characters often brought the music into the heart of the action, playing cello and piano, while in other scenes various soundscapes of melancholy strings, tolling bells, children’s chatter and piano set the mood.

I’ve regaled you with lists of things, using an abundance of commas, but I enjoyed Infinita so immensely that it’s hard to know how to stop. Funnily enough, emerging from the dark I saw a friend who had also attended and for a moment both of us were speechless with appreciation, our mouths open like guppies.

familiefloez-infinita_10_simona_fossiBefore I wind down, I must say that the technical and design aspects of the show were also first rate. In particular I enjoyed the shadow theatre video that played between scenes, sharing a marvelous, complementary story featuring the characters we now recognised, and many others.

The creators of the story and characters are Björn Lee, Benjamin Reber, Hajo Schüler and Michael Vogel. I can’t single out any particular performance because it’s not stated who played which characters. But it’s OK, everyone was wonderful! A special mention to Vogel and Schüler, who also directed.

Familie Flöz is now touring this show and others from their repertoire across Europe until July 2017, check the program here. For the super enthusiastic, there are also dates in China, Vietnam and India to look out for. The next outing for Infinita, is on 7 & 8 December in Vélizy-Villacoublay, France.

12 October 2016
Művészetek Palotája, Budapest


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