Written and performed by Ennio
Produced by Arena Stage
Reviewed by Ronnie Ruff
For those unfamiliar with Ennio’s act, here is the scoop. The Italian-born performer does pantomime, runway style dance routines to popular songs while changing paper costumes to portray pop culture icons. The paper costumes that use Velcro and interesting folds to achieve his transformations are a mixed bag of bright and funny to sophomoric and less than inventive.
Well, I could tell you that my evening at Arena Stage to see Edinburgh Fringe Festival sensation Ennio’s version of the Sunday funny papers was every bit as good as the real thing. I would not be telling the complete truth though. The real thing that appears in your Sunday newspaper is absolutely more fun for many reasons but mostly it is the presence of a plot. Yep, those comics have a plot and of course there is no plot to Ennio’s paper explosion. Yes, there is some pretty funny stuff going on visually and the show is really cute at times — if you are a student of POP Culture you will be amused to no end, but it ends there because Ennio’s show is a collage of pop icon snippets that are funny as long as you recognize the character quickly enough. Some snips last only 60 seconds or so. I consider myself a student of POP Culture .. not an expert for sure … and I got most of the them pretty quickly..
I could reveal all his characters but half the fun is figuring out who the next paper doll will be. So here’s my favorite.. drum roll… Yes, Jeanne Deckers (1933-1985) is famous all over the world as ‘The Singing Nun’ and for her massive hit “Dominique”, which reached # 1. And my two runners up? Boy George and Eminem, for sure.
Most of the older folks around me did not guess either these last two icons nor many of the other more recent singers in Ennio’s 70 minute parade. So if your musical taste stretches from 50’s Broadway and film to Hip Hop and Euro Disco, you’ll find yourself clapping and getting into the whole scene of Ennio’s ‘living cartoons’. If not, you’ll be wondering what’s it all about.
Ennio appears at Arena Stage through June 10th. Tickets: $38. Order online, call 202 488-3300, or stop by the Arena Stage box office: 1101 Sixth Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024