There comes a point in Familie Flöz’s Hotel Paradiso where you realise that all a character needs to do to generate instant warm laughter is walk onstage. This is testament to the magic combination of movement and masks in Flöz’s work, the latter mystically expressive, tricking you into thinking they can wink or frown when clearly they cannot.
Equally grotesque and innocent, these masks are mirrored in the storyline, a farcical sort of fable about a brother and sister dominated by their elderly mother, squabbling over the running of the family hotel. There are thwarted love plots, bickers over taste in curtains, and a chef with a pet dog, a bloody apron and a meat saw – you can imagine how that one works out.
It’s the culmination of disaster that forms farce’s beating heart, and the physical punchlines when they come are marvellously delivered: a quick turn of the head, or a visual catchphrase such as the chef donning his goggles in preparation for another go at that saw.
But the storyline feels a little too episodic to get a full-momentum swing tangling us up to a grand climax, and the action doesn’t really feel as if it kicks in properly until quite a way through, when the first body turns up. When it does you instantly feel the stakes rise, and along with them the comic tension.
Nevertheless the Familie has created a piece so distinctive-looking and yet so classic in its slapstick feel that it would be difficult not to fall for its unlikely slice of paradise.