Sunday 20th August 2017 at Etcetera Theatre, London.
M.I.M.E.S (Most Imbecilic Mime Ensemble Show), is the UK debut show of Mauro Groppo, Paolo Scaglia and Samuel Toye, and it’s a refreshingly different treat. MIMES is made up of a number of mini sketches, some following on from one another, and some seeming to stand alone. Mauro Groppo and Samuel Toye delight as the incessantly gleeful mimes who try with all their might to have their unimpressed, fed-up friend (Paolo Scaglia) join them in their funny and quirky pursuits. There are classic displays of climbing ladders, playing around with balls and light bulbs alongside some fun interactions with the audience; all comically underscored with the irritated non-compliance or resentful compliance of their sour faced companion. The performance is highly physical, naturally, and the skill involved in creating a world that is for the most part wordless, is abundantly evident.
With Toye presented as the joker character, Scaglia as the self-assigned lead and Groppo as the grouchy nay-sayer, the group present a series of funny scenarios which see them vying to approval and their place within the hierarchy, leading to some very funny scenes of gleeful acts of defiance. I’m convinced that you’ll never find a more hilarious example of a character eating fruit than Toye’s depiction of his character breaking one of the golden rules of mime: no real objects. That scene and the subsequent altercation with the lead mime, played by Scaglia, are probably my favourite scenes of the show. Other highlights include the gradual, hilarious breaking down of the laws of mime, with the passionate mimes’ melodramatic reactions to the betrayals of the grouchy mime gaining generous laughs and providing a winning returning theme. The elitism of the stuffy lead is comically challenged and as he eventually falls into the trap of engaging with the real world, creating a moment of knowing glee for both audience and the subordinate characters to delight in.
Complimented by the classic white face make-up, the three mimes showcase some impressive talent in the art of face-making, proving that words aren’t necessary for drawing out big laughs and neither are they necessary to communicate the varying exaggerated emotions of the mimes. The trio are dressed identically in black and rely on only a few sound effects, a little well-timed, well selected music and a few simple props to support the narrative of the breaking of mime rules, presenting an impressively inventive and engaging show. Slapstick is used well yet sparingly, serving to remind us of the comic merits of the style while keeping in mind the need to appease modern audiences – the combinations of the classic and the modern work beautifully in this show.
Audience interaction is pacy and well played, bringing audience members on stage to share in the farcical fun of the blurring lines in the world of mime. The silent charm of the cast puts the audience at ease and the laughs are audible throughout. Some elements are a little too silly for my tastes, with the sperm race taking a little too long and only really becoming funny rather than amusing for me when the tragedy of the destroyed ovum plays out. But there are few misses in the show and the precision of the physicality, the great comic timing and the wonderful chemistry between the cast members clearly makes this a brilliant debut show for the company.
The show feels carefully thought out, drawing attention to ideas of power and compliance while never failing to find the fun in any given situation. Aimed at all ages and limitless in reach in terms of the lack of language barriers, The Three Dots bring an increasingly rare, classic style back into the mainstream with MIMES, a fun and dynamic debut at the Camden Fringe. Mime is still used in all sorts of shows, but a mime show which purely celebrates the art of mime itself is a rare thing – and this carefully constructed performance, which proves itself to be simultaneously respectful of the classic style and mindful of modern tastes, suggests that it might just be time for such shows to make a come-back.