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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Stage Review

Mummenschanz mystifies and delights at the Shubert

The Swiss-based physical-theater troupe Mummenschanz is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year — a pretty good run for performers who don’t speak. Which is not to say they don’t communicate. When during their “Muppet Show” appearance in 1976 Kermit asked founding members Bernie Schürch, Andres Bossard, and Floriana Frassetto whether they had anything to say, two of them blew soap bubbles at him and the third pulled an egg out of his mouth.

There’s always been something Muppet-like about Mummenschanz: The troupe’s creations are zany and full of fun, but no matter what form — from slinkies to an electric socket — the performers take, they have something poignant to say about the human condition. Mummenschanz is making its sixth Celebrity Series appearance at the Citi Shubert Theatre this week, but its first since the 2002–03 season. For the troupe’s 40th anniversary show, the four players — Frassetto with Philipp Egli, Raffaella Mattioli, and Pietro Montandon — pack 27 sketches into just under two hours (including a 25-minute intermission). You hardly have time to think about one bit before the next is in full swing.

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