Trouble in Paradiso

After 700 shows in 34 countries, mask theatre play Hotel Paradiso comes to India

Written by Dipanita Nath | Published:October 29, 2016 5:26 am
Trouble in Paradiso, Paradiso play, lifestyle Four actors play 16 characters among themselves by using masks to switch roles in seconds

The small hotel situated on the snow-covered slopes of the Swiss Alps is like other people’s lives — it looks beautiful from the outside. Within, the elevator does not work. The chef isn’t cooking normal meals, but who knows what. Behind the concierge’s desk, there is a fight going on among the family members who own the property. A hilarious pandemonium reigns in Hotel Paradiso, a play by a “pool” of performers based in Germany called Familie Flöz that is touring India.

“We worked in a Swiss resort on the Alps and would see the normal, peaceful lives of the people who came there on holiday. It reminded us of films from the ’60s and ’70s that were set in perfect little hotels. We decided to bring in the clown (a theatrical character who disrupts normalcy) to show us the other side of the facade,” says Gianni Bettucci, one of the directors of Familie Flöz. Thus was born a dark and funny storyline that includes a corpse. “The corpse is presented in a funny way,” says Bettucci.

Familie Flöz contains “theatre makers, actors, musicians, dancers, directors, mask-, light-, set and costume designers, dramatic advisors and other good souls from 10 nations”. For Hotel Paradiso, they combined mime, clowning and theatre with masks to create a new language and set it against an emotional soundtrack and dramatic sets.

Four actors play 16 characters among themselves by using masks to switch roles in seconds. One actor, for instance, becomes the old mother of the family, the bellboy, two women guests, as well as the technician. The language of physical theatre replaces words as entire conversations take place on stage. “The papier mache masks don’t move but audiences have sworn that the characters did cry, get angry, talk and move. That is the magic of masks,” says Bettucci.

Hotel Paradiso will be held at Kamani auditorium on Saturday and Sunday, 4 pm and 8 pm. Tickets: Rs 500 & upwards