San Francisco Fringe 2017
“I try to be normal, but it never pans out. A show about excessive energy and intermittent focus… dumbing down only to pop back up again. It is my love of theatre, laughter, pantomime, diy punk and euphoria that keeps me smiling and laughing. See you in the middle! Let’s have a great time!”
A very softly spoken character, James Sunquist starts to speak to us. He is wearing a red velvet dinner jacket, and oversize clownish black shoes. As a narrator he has a certain charm and then he tells us about the landlord! His first scene encompasses a frantic energy and physical character. He mimes effectively and makes vocal sound effects as he uses as much physical movement and raspy vocal sound as possible. He is able to switch voices quickly from high falsetto to melodious, then to loud raucous squawks!
In another section he uses mime very well with agile precise arms and hands, then he breaks out into character dialogue and even does a bit of ventriloquism! He sings in two different voices and has a laugh that cackles and resonates with the audience. The landlord story is back with the extremely loud throaty vocal sounds. There’s also a clever elevator bit created with his physicality.
Sunquist continues at this pace with more mimed characters, good timing, an expressive face, and piercing eyes. In one piece he is so frenzied physically and uses so much volume that he seems to work way too hard for the payoff, which might be just as effective in a toned down version. Lighting and small light changes are used to good effect during the fifty-minute show.
He is sincere as a storyteller and the show has several twists and turns, not least during the second half, which is all about a dear friend, Alex. Here, Sunquist finds a way to put his mime and other talents to good use, to help his friend. The tone in this part is very different, in fact, it’s a surprising and poignant turn of events.
In all this is an interesting show that could benefit from polishing and honing. There is an imbalance between the two parts of this show. While this could be thought of as a contrast, which is generally good, but in this case the crafting of the story about Alex could benefit from more language development, and storytelling skills. Also, one has to wonder how long vocal cords can hold out without damage, given the extremes to which they are subjected in the first part of the show.