Writer and Director: Trygve Wakenshaw
Reviewer: Fergus Morgan
It takes great skill to make a room full of people laugh without making sound. It takes even more to push a large audience into fits of hysterics without so much as uttering a syllable. And if you can do that, while simultaneously getting them to vividly imagine you murdering a unicorn with its own horn without a single prop, then you’re a seriously talented performer. Comic mime Trygve Wakenshaw is a seriously talented performer and his show Kraken is hilarious from beginning to end.
From the moment the audience enters, Wakenshaw is performing. He dances exuberantly in a back corner of the stage, making eyes at those entering the auditorium and grinning like a demented Cheshire Cat. In his first skit, he runs across the room in slow motion, shedding clothes elastically tethered to a large box behind him as he goes, until he stands stark naked centre stage. It is an exquisitely drawn out routine and from then onwards, Wakenshaw has the room in the palm of his hand, shepherding the audience through a series of increasingly bizarre mimes.
There is never a dull moment and, indeed, part of the fun actually comes from trying to decipher Wakenshaw’s mimes before anyone else does. They range from the subtly witty (a silent imitation of a rapper using a loop pedal is particularly funny) to the downright outrageous (a horrible and hilarious enactment of a baby elephant being squeezed from its mother’s vagina has the audience in stitches).
All of them are laced with Wakenshaw’s slightly off-beat, absurdist humour, and all are finely constructed, each building to an unbearably funny climax before mutating into something else entirely. There’s plenty of audience involvement too, with Wakenshaw flinging imaginary knives into the audience and somehow managing to get everyone to kiss each other better.
Throughout, Wakenshaw takes recognisable gestures – an actor’s curtain call bow, a boxer’s pugilistic stance, even so little as a small, apologetic grimace – and plays with them, exaggerating them extravagantly and managing to draw huge laughs from both the physical spectacle and the light-hearted mockery of our little ticks and twitches.
Wakenshaw is a consummate performer. He has an enviably lithe frame which he can contort into impossible shapes and his facial expressiveness is just as impressive, a stealthy cocktail of sly smirks, faux-innocent smiles, and demonic grins. And, when he does occasionally splutter a few words, it is in a half-decipherable squeak that rolls with irony and humour. He is, in short, the whole package: a talented mime, an immediately likeable on-stage presence, and a brilliantly funny comic.
Runs until 28 May 2016 | Image:Evan Munro-Smith