Prior to the start of MasterMimes: The Show, a man and a woman are sleeping on the floor. Every few minutes, an alarm clock goes off and the woman hits snooze with ever increasing annoyance. Finally, the lights go down as lively old-timey music starts.
The performers, costumed in simple black clothes, mime their way through a cute romantic comedy version of a couple waking up – complete with teasing tooth-brushing and flirty jostling for bathroom space. In a touch reminiscent of vaudeville, a small chalkboard on the side of stage introduces the scene as “Morning Routine”. By the time the second scene (“Breakfast”, according to the chalkboard) ends, it seems like we’re in for a lighthearted hour exploring the daily life of an adorable couple.
What follows instead is a series of unrelated vignettes in a spectrum of styles of mime, from clownish comedy to expressive, dramatic pieces that border on modern dance. Each scene explores, with varying degrees of success, subjects that range from the dark and intense to the ridiculous. It’s as bumpy a ride as you might expect from a show with such wide-ranging content and no narrative thread to bind it together.
MasterMimes: The Show
closes July 22, 2018
Details and tickets
Though MasterMimes: The Show is inconsistent, the MasterMimes themselves (Gabe Simms and Julianne Nogar) are so earnest and sincere I couldn’t help but consistently root for them. They’ve obviously put a lot of effort and thought into this show. Performance-wise, Simms leans toward the clownish and cheeky, while Nogar tends to be genuine and emotional. All good qualities, but the result is that duo scenes such as “Morning Routine”, “Breakfast” and “Ice Skating” are neither totally stylized nor realistic, but something in between and undefined. Some of the solo vignettes, like Simms’ macabre “Deconstruction” and Nogar’s passionate “Trauma”, work better.
As delightful as Simms and Nogar are, their show lacks maturity. A vignette titled “Fitz Goes to the Bathroom” is exactly what you might expect. Flood? Check. Bathroom door stuck? Check. Comparison of Fitz’s relative size to the man in the urinal next to him? Check. Another section, titled “Grief”, has a promising start reminiscent of the first few minutes of the Pixar movie Up. But, they didn’t stick the ending. It’s an outdated take on an complex subject which needs to be addressed with nuance and depth. Overall, MasterMimes: The Show is earnest and impressionistic, whereas physical storytelling of this type requires authenticity and extreme specificity.
At the curtain speech Simms’ explained that the show is a work in progress put together for his senior thesis. That’s exactly what it feels like: a collection of class assignments that explore different facets of the art of mime. I can imagine that if the MasterMimes were my students, I’d give them an “A”. But MasterMimes: The Show doesn’t quite come together as a single piece of theater.
MasterMimes: The Show presented by: MasterMimes. Featuring: Gabe Simms and Julianne Nogar. Chief Creative Minds: Gabe Simms and Julianne Nogar. Stage Manager: McKenna Willis. Presented at Capital Fringe 2018 . Reviewed by Amy Couchoud.