Mime back in fashion? Implausibly, it would seem so. In the wake of The Boy With The Tape On His Face‘s Edinburgh Panel Prize winning silent antics comes a nomination for the top award for Trygve Wakenshaw’s Nautilus, the third of his very modern mime shows (Kraken is also at Underbelly this year).
Wakenshaw finds the sick heart of mime. Anthropomorphised animals are a key element. Self-milking cows, self-shearing sheep and self-cooking chickens all make an appearance in Nautilus, while you’ll shudder when you realise Wakenshaw’s crab is not actually on the beach.
Although the wildlife’s something of a specialty, humans provide the funniest moments. His mime stand-up can do everything a regular stand-up does. There’s audience participation, banter, one-liners. Stripped to the visuals, you don’t need to hear jokes to make you laugh; it’s all going on in your head. And an Aretha Franklin lip-synch sketch shows just how little you need to be really funny.
It’s not entirely clear why this has been stretched to an hour and a half though, rather than a straight hour. By the end, his scene-changing sequence (finding himself frozen in a spotlight Band on the Run style) is beginning to pall. There are some callbacks that seem to have been added just for the sake of having them, and it takes a while for some of the plotlines to reach their climax. One of the best sketches – a grisly take on Rapunzel – appears just once, and is none the worse for that.
It’s very well executed though, and there’s obviously an abundance of slightly twisted ideas flowing from Wakenshaw’s mind into this modern take on a once dead genre.