Camden Fringe 2011
Autojeu Theatre presents an inimitable and exceedingly entertaining devised adventure, written and performed by Sam Gibbs, with Nusret Ozguc. The result is a delectable circus of puppetry, mime and high energy action performances. Highly recommended.
Painted in the foyer of Camden People’s Theatre is the pronouncement that the shabby converted space will house ‘artists…taking risks, making exciting choices and pursuing excellence.’ How To Climb Mt. Everest, a hilarious and exhilarating two-man mime adventure, is no exception to the maxim.
Performers Sam Gibbs and Nusret Ozguc, equipped solely with their talent, a standardised IKEA lamp, a tattered rag and a bongo, guide a captivated audience into an ostentatiously loud and energetic journey to the peak of Everest. The minimal set created an environment of pretend wonderfully reminiscent of children at play. Imagination was unlimited as the performers delved the audience into a world created through mime, suspending any disbelief that we were witnessing any other than a high octane expedition in the urban world, then deepest nature. Little technical help was required as the performers negated use of recorded sound effects, opting to master their voice boxes and percussive possibilities of the props.
Bursting on to stage immediately exhibited an engaging vigour and charisma providing reason enough reason to complicatedly in the journey from mundane life working-life rituals to a mishap-laden escapade. How to… was instantly buyable and unfalteringly engaging. Sam Gibbs and Nusret Ozguc worked delectably well as a team. Gibbs and Ozguc were decisively entertaining individually and as a sparring double act. True to the charm of boyhood games of make-believe they would often berate each other for intruding on one another’s moments. Welcomingly breaking character, the perfromers squabbled over the efficacy of the makeshift scenery; Gibbs humorously denounced Ozguc’s attempt to fashion a believable replica of Mt. Everest from the aforementioned tattered rag.
Two stand-out sequences – an abridged re-enactment of the life-cycle and a humdrum nine to five routine – were indicative of the innovation, skill and practice of Autojeu Theatre. In the first, a puppet stalk is manoeuvred by Gibbs as Ozguc bursts from the womb and rapidly passes through life milestones from gaining speech to getting married and bearing a child comically and fluidly changing from babyish gurgle to baritone grown-up. As the nine to five routine is played out, Ozguc brilliantly acts as a radio, shower and photocopier. In an amusing, albeit puerile, mimicking of utilities the two performers are exuberant and fearless from embarrassment.
The performing duo was tremendously adept at creating an immersing fantasy. Mountainous gale force winds are resourcefully created with whistling and a bongo, pulling the drawstrings of a coat to create a cape like billowing. Infrequently, however, there were occasions when the miming was lost and it was difficult to comprehend in flashes of limbs and gurns exactly what were witnessing. Gibbs’s writing suffered at times, the last quarter of the show not matching the other portion’s tight pacing. These were minor hiccups not detracting from the overall thrall of the story, which led to an immensely satisfying grand finale.
The very nature of How To Climb Mt. Everest is a circus of caricatures and buffoonery executed with a captivating blend of mime and deft physical prowess. Gibbs and Ozguc were geniuses of malleability in both expressively and interpretation of genre. Autojeu Theatre succeeded in staging a fabulously entertaining piece both engaging and inviting, fulfilling Camden People’s Theatre’s manifesto of pursuing excellence.