(and a half)
Disturbing, funny and beautiful all at once, Steven Banks’ Billy the Mime is an oddly satisfying experience.
To be honest I was particularly sceptical about this show, it’s been about a century since mime was last in fashion and when you see the guys out on the high street it’s easy to see why.
Billy, however, had the audience fixated from the off with a captivating first sketch (told using just his hands) depicting a love story between two birds. Much of the show is geared towards comedy of course, but Billy’s greatest gift is perhaps in the portrayal of drama and there were moments of great tenderness and poignancy throughout, the Whitney Houston and World War Two sketches in particular.
It is testament to Bank’s creative ability and talents as a physical actor that at no point do you miss the spoken word, but don’t for a moment think that a lack of bad language means this will be suitable for all ages. The show is anything but; consider the sketch titles The Priest and The Altar Boy, the Michael Jackson Story and The Charles and Diana Story and you may get a vague idea as to the nature of the beast.
Certainly the skits are all performed very well, and most do strike a fine balance between funny and taboo, but there are some which are perhaps a little too chilling. In addition to this the show does require a certain level of culture among its viewers and sketches such as the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings story are perhaps a little foreign for British audiences.
While it may be a bit rough round the edges, this show has enough moments of real comedic and dramatic quality to earn a thorough recommendation.
Billy the Mime
Just The Tonic at the Caves,
Until 26 August, 18:15
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