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MIMES (Most Imbecilic Mime Ensemble Show)
Etcetera Theatre
17th August 2017


The Three Dots

Photography provided by The Three Dots

How many mime artists does it take to change a lightbulb? In MIMES (Most Imbecilic Mime Ensemble Show), Paolo Scaglia, Samuel Toye and Mauro Groppo take on three distinct stage personas and attempt to demonstrate the answer without using any words or real objects. Spoiler alert, with MIMES lasting an hour, it may not be an easy question to answer...

The characters adopted by Scaglia and Toye take their miming super seriously, ensuring that they act out every tiny detail and looking incredibly pleased with themselves after doing so. Scaglia is the leader, picking up imaginary objects with authority, and Toye the earnest sidekick. Toye mirrors and complements the other man's actions and in one scene, even runs to fetch objects with the loyalty and relentless enthusiasm of a puppy. Eager to please, he accepts all of Scaglia's teachings as essential and is as scandalised as his master when the rules are seemingly not followed.

Groppo is our anarchist. Contrasting the other two men, he plays the mime who doesn't really understand why there have to be so many rules and who will forget to open a door before walking straight through it completely unfazed, much to the faux horror of the other performers. His lack of patience makes him an easy ally for any audience member who isn't a fan of mime artists or clowning, opening this show up to, well, anyone and giving it a very broad appeal. Although there are some very traditional techniques used, they're largely only in the show for parody purposes. If you like the medium, you'll take pleasure in seeing it performed well. If you don't, you'll enjoy poking fun at it all with help from Groppo.

Crucially for a mime trio, the men all have very expressive faces and different looks that complement each other. Scaglia is the most versatile and can contort his face into a myriad of expressions to rival any Venetian mask. Groppo does grumpy superbly, scowling and looking bored. Toye switches between an exaggerated state of contentment and sadness with ease. Whilst Toye was the latecomer to the trio, it's impossible to tell that working together wasn't the plan from day one.

The ideas employed are all conceived and executed well, with the sound cues in particular absolutely spot on. Although the men perform in silence for the most part, with only some minor vocal noises, there are also some prerecorded sounds that need to be timed perfectly to avoid the jokes falling flat. I've seen far more forgiving cues missed from the same tech box, so kudos all round.

However, some of the gags are drawn out slightly too long - the egg and sperm conception scene is entertaining and works well with the inherent drama built into the start of O Fortuna, but by attempting to match the action to the music rather than the other way round, it becomes about half a minute too long. Not a lot of fat on its own, though over the course of the hour, a tiny bit here and there does add up. Whilst the final piece of interaction is joyful, the earlier improvisations with those plucked from the audience lack energy. The audience chuckles anyway, enjoying the simple Schadenfreude of not being on stage, but there is scope here to really think about how to tailor the sketch to the victims.

Whether you like mime or not, MIMES is a thoroughly entertaining comedy show which will delight both adults and children. You can rely on The Three Dots to make you laugh, just don't ask them for any help with light fixtures...

MIMES (Most Imbecilic Mime Ensemble Show) opened on 16th August and runs until 20th August 2017 at the Etcetera Theatre, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

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