Mime Candy starts with a voiceover from pantomime artist, Candy Love, the star of her solo mime show, informing us she is “Here to experience this human life with you on stage.” Given one expects a pantomime performance to be completely silent, as that’s the harbinger of the form, the introductory voiceover seems like a good way to set the scene.
While her 25-minute performance starts silently, Candy Love approaches a microphone as a mime and then surprises the audience by speaking into it. She details a game she wants to play with the audience. She invites attendees to write an idea or word on a white board, and she will then pantomime it. Her vocalization is out of character given the silent nature of pantomime. Beyond that, her speech is ultimately unnecessary and diminishes her performance, making it amateurish, as she could easily communicate the game via mime.
Some of her “unscripted mimes” as she calls the white board word mimes are more successful than others. When she portrays “automation,” she seems to be making something, but the final “product” is never clear, and the process itself isn’t repeatable in the way one expects automation to be. Her portrayal of “time” is condensed and successful. She points both arms skyward, then stiltingly moves her right arm, mimicking the movement of a clock’s minute hand. Another unscripted mime is “play piano,” and she playfully flips out faux tuxedo tails before sitting on an imaginary stool and stretches her arms outward to crack her knuckles. One expects her to commence a concerto, but she “plays” an elementary tune, eliciting easy laughter after the pomp and circumstance that went into her preparation.
Candy Love chooses to speak again before launching into her finale, and again, it detracts from the medium. Her finale is a back-up dancer piece crossed with soundless karaoke as she mimes to India Arie’s song “There’s Hope.” The song’s chorus repeats, “It doesn’t cost a thing to smile.” Candy Love is clearly earnest, and her own face breaks into smile from the stage as the audience reacts to her; art is a shared and interactive journey, regardless of the form.
Legends of Arthur
Alan Irvine’s show Legends of Arthur is classified as theatre in the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival line-up. However, Irvine’s show would be more aptly described as oral tradition. Irvine tells three Arthurian legends over the course of 70 minutes. His deeply resonant voice hearkens back to an era when literacy was scant and oral poets recited stories to pass them down through the generations. However, Irvine isn’t just an audio book come to life. He also performs his stories, enlivening them with key gestures that accentuate pivotal turns in the narrative.
Irvine’s first tale is “The Sword in the Stone.” When Irvine tells of various nobles attempting to pull the sword from the stone, he enacts the effort, gripping the imagined hilt and grunting as he strains to extract the sword. When Irvine channels Arthur’s character, he mimics Arthur’s easy slide of the sword from its marble base. His performative qualities enhance his unwavering narrative that never misses a beat, making his hour plus recitation appear as effortless and natural as Arthur’s removal of the sword.
Irvine’s second tale is “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Having read this 14th century narrative several times, I’m intimately familiar with it. I note this detail as it’s a testimony to Irvine’s gripping storytelling capabilities. The mark of a compelling storyteller is Irvine kept me on the edge of my seat, despite the fact I knew how the story ends. His rendition of the three days leading up to Sir Gawain meeting the Green Knight for the second time are particularly well-done as the tension palpably escalates. The tale reminds us dilemmas like battling sexual desire and struggling for honesty are both ancient and highly translatable to the contemporary.
Irvine reveals the third Arthurian legend is a new story for him, and this moment of vulnerability gives him authenticity. However, Irvine’s performance of the third story in the trio is as flawless and compelling as the other two, suggesting his commitment to deep proficiency at his craft. The third tale is about political loyalty – and misplaced loyalty, and once again, Irvine sails us back over the seas of time while also resonating with a troubled political present.
Tiffany Raymond has her PhD in 20th century American drama from the University of Southern California where her research focused on labor and social protest theatre. She also has two master’s degrees, one from the University of Southern California and one from the University of Tennessee. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her family. In addition to being a theatre nerd, she’s also a tech geek, avid reader and occasional half-marathon runner.
Categories: Archived Reviews