Camden Fringe 2017
Three male performers with painted white faces and their imagination which runs riot fills the sixty minutes. Their mime is clear and concise, their ideas absurd and nonsensical and with audience participation this is a show that is not for everyone but is unashamedly quirky.
M.I.M.E.S was performed by ‘The Three Dots Theatre Company’ at the Etcetera Theatre and the mime artists were Mauro Groppo, Paulo Scaglia and Samuel Toye. As stipulated on the programme for the show the company welcome us into ‘The World of M.I.M.E.S’ and notify us of their rules: Rule no1: You cannot speak and Rule no2: You cannot use objects. We assume the performers will follow these rules, however we find this not to be the case; the rules are broken and hilarity ensues with the involvement of real bananas, real guns and frustrated vocal outbursts.
The set was empty but for two white balloons which were pinned up either side of the stage, outlining the rules of the show, yet the balloons were later used as objects and the rules rubbed out telling us that this show does not follow any rules. It does break a few too many rules theatrically but the style of the piece is endearing and farcical and helps to alleviate this a little.
Opening the show the mime artists enter the stage wiggling their heads which are actually stuck inside white sperm-shaped hats, we immediately are intrigued and want to see more of this foolishness. Stylised convincing mime is the consistency which holds this show together and it brims with tragic and funny moments, their expressive facial expressions a clear indication of their emotions. The camaraderie between the actors is well formed with one of them playing the role of the disgruntled mime artist while the other two are enthusiastic and sincere. The actors break the fourth wall adoringly and we admire their craft in mime and comedy.
The sound effects aid the mime well with door creaks to mark a door being opened and a light switch being turned on and off. Although simple the timing is precise and we see the invisible objects which they paint to us with their mime. Music is used for comic effect and the audience enjoy this addition. We are invited to watch a ‘Star Wars’ style light sabre fight, ‘Mamma Mia’ disco dancing and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ choreography, the quick changes of music forcing them to take up the next style of dancing. It is a unique convention but could be refined physically.
Clever concepts such as the use of metal detectors which read the audience’s mind and the encouragement of audience participation makes this piece different from traditional mime. Excitingly we are goaded into miming ourselves adding to the enjoyment, we are shown how to mime holding a pin and target them at balloons onstage, bursting them; an original idea and a special moment, making the piece an active experience.
A favourite moment for myself was when one of the performers mimes peeling a banana to find a real banana stuck down his pants. His awe, shock and wonderment is fantastic and as he shoves the banana into his mouth in profound appreciation for this novel and rare object and he tempts us into keeping this a secret between us and keeping it from his friends; we are giddy with uncontrollable laughter at the silliness.
Despite the fact that this show has many great aspects to boast of, to improve it could benefit from more structure and perhaps a more concise through-line or story; there are moments which we are unsure as to what exactly is going on and why and moments which go on for far too long. There are funny moments however, and with sharper comic timing the jokes could be that much more successful. M.I.M.E.S breaks the rules made within the show itself and so the writing should be celebrated for this curious concept; however, structurally it breaks a few too many rules. Nevertheless, it is a good show.