On the more literary side of visual theatre comes Hôtel de Rive, a tailspin into the headspace of Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti – known largely for his crucial role in the development of Surrealism. Manipulate welcomes back Figurentheater Tübingen to present interpretations of four short texts by Giacometti, as inquisitive as they are impassable. This hour-long piece is far from glib, with much probable reward for anyone who is informed and learned on Giacometti’s existential angst. He walled himself off at the titular hotel in Geneva in an attempt to reignite his creative fire and actor Patrick Michaelis journeys from Giacometti’s childhood through to his artistic crisis.
Using a mixture of live filming, alphorn and trumpet music, and delicate material puppetry, we are dragged into the freewheeling life of a frustrated but deeply poetic mind. By no means accidentally, the puppets are familiar of Giacometti’s most famous work – L’Homme qui marche I – which sold at auction (including premium) for £65m. Arched, spindly characters float, hover and dance around Michaelis, who retells these peculiar stories in multilingual verse. The dim and dusty mood is like Beckett meets Bukowski: hallucinatory, darkly comic and drawn-out. This kind of enigmatic theatre may appeal to the steadfast avant-garde enthusiast, but is broadly unengaging and remote, and in no way refreshes or innovates multidisciplinary theatre.