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The Confetti Maker

Frank Wurzinger
Greenwich Theatre

The Confetti Maker - Quality Control Credit: Alexander Parsonage
The Confetti Maker - Confetti Credit: Alexander Parsonage

Dust coat clad Frank Wurzinger turns away from his on-stage discussion with a rather unwilling theatre technician to look into the audience and, with a little nervous twitch and light European accent, appealing ask "Don't look at me, I haven't started yet." From then on it was almost impossible to take my eyes off him for fear of missing a carefully chosen gesture or perfectly timed hesitation.

The imagination of Wurzinger's factory worker character is what gets him through a tedious day, and the inventiveness of Wurzinger and director, physical theatre guru John Wright, is what makes the portrayal of this man trapped in a mundane job sustained by his dreams and ambitions for love so comically touching.

The physical unease of the character starts from his terrible hair and permeates downwards. It’s a feature that lends credibility to the slapstick mishaps, one of which involves a folding stool that has a nod to Buster Keaton and his deckchair. Much of the comedy has an innocent naivety that with the clowning also has something reminiscent of Keaton's rival Chaplin, not least in the pathos of the little man's lost love.

The sparse dialogue adds to the charm of the character not only in what he says—"I'm not gay" he tells us, "I'm from Bavaria"—but also the turn of phrase. He speaks like a foreign language student who has learnt by heart the section on idioms and is intent on getting them all in, delivering them with a 'look at me mummy, aren’t I clever' joyfulness.

Every scene brings another visual treat. In a delightful bit of lunch–break role play, Wurzinger dextrously murders a croissant with a pair of scissors, and then looks enquiringly at the laughing audience, rebuking us for our enjoyment of the disembowelling. In his hands, a hole puncher becomes maracas, a roll of wallpaper becomes a horse or a girlfriend.

It is also a show full of surprises be they funny, absurd or evocative. Wurzinger is as capable of breaking into a goose–step whilst juggling plates as he is to give birth to a baby of amassed shredded paper. Whilst "To be or not be" is recited, "a sea of troubles" is manifest into a length of paper that is subdued, scrunched and forced into one of the cardboard boxes that line the stage. With artful comic choreography and miles of packing tape, the box becomes attached to his leg—emotional baggage that he drags about the stage like a ball and chain.

If there is any danger that we are reading too much into this show or taking it too seriously, Wurzinger provides a huge smile or reminds us "it's not real. This is not real". And in a way of course it isn't but in a way it is because this very funny, physically skilful performance tells us something about ourselves.

Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti