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Lincoln Center Festival: Murmurs

Critics' pick
Murmurs

Murmurs. Gerald W. Lynch Theater (see the Lincoln Center Festival in Off-Broadway). Conceived and directed by Victoria Thierrée Chaplin and Aurelia Thierrée. With Thierrée, Jaime Martinez and Magnus Jakobsson. 1hr 20mins. No intermission.

Murmurs: in brief

Aurélia Thierrée stars in a dreamlike spectacle conceived and directed by her mother, neocircus innovator Victoria Thierrée Chaplin (the daughter of Charlie Chaplin and granddaughter of Eugene O'Neill). Swedish acrobat Magnus Jakobsson and American dancer Jaime D. Martinez share the Lincoln Center Festival stage.

Murmurs: theater review by Helen Shaw

In the fog of whimsy and invention that surrounds the imported Murmurs (a brief engagement at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival ends on Sunday), one begins to ask some forbidden questions about the intentions of its creators. Do the circus-minded makers mind, particularly, that the shabby-sweet magicks at play in Victoria Thierrée Chaplin and Aurelia Thierrée's aren't particularly precise? Do they mind that its gossamer structure frays into nonsense and then blows completely away? Based on what we see, they couldn't. There's a show-wide delight here in tattiness—though not in the handmade, exactly, since many of the props and drops are sumptuous and custom-built. Instead, there's a willingness to follow dream logic even to the point of shredding basic showmanship patterns. For instance, we begin with the work's strongest scenario (the gifted Aurelia Thierrée in an absurdist packing struggle) and progress haphazardly towards weaker material. It took me a little while to accept this apparent indiscipline as a kind of generosity—they have a lovely trick to show us, so why would they wait?

If there is a story-idea in play, it is that buildings have memories. On a stage piled with cardboard boxes, Thierrée sulkily resists a foreman who silently urges her out of the building. Sad little showers of plaster fall down; Thierrée's recalcitrance is echoed in her boxes, who trickily try to unpack themselves. Her drifting packing plastic suddenly becomes a bubble-wrap monster, whose puppet arms enfold her and then push her away. And it is then that a work that has been transcendently magical turns into a series of clever bits. Jaime Martinez and Magnus Jakobsson chase Thierrée through a fabric cityscape, showing off virtuosic dancing and physical comedy skills respectively. Some moments manage to return to the astonishing loveliness of the first section (as when she runs up stairs to stand on a landing that isn't there), the rest are a wearying serious of pursuits and escapes and sudden, strange disguises. I wouldn't tell you not to go, not when there are things here so startlingly moving. But I only want to warn you to expect a specific pace, not unfamiliar from enchantments—first we have the spell, and then the long restoring sleep.—Theater review by Helen Shaw

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Event website: http://lincolncenterfestival.org
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