Review of Kraken27th May 2016

Brighton Fringe Festival

He came right out and said it, “I’m a mime” no shame, no booing, no mass exodus, he said it like it was nothing, no biggie, just put it out there. Mind you he had just exposed himself literally, twice, so I guess he had nothing left to lose.

I think this man could be the one to reclaim the word, to make mime cool again because he was ice cool, and skilled, and charming, and extraordinary. He won the audience from the start, even before the start actually. It seemed like the show had no beginning and no end, he was there as we came in, just there, edge of the stage, hanging out and he finished the show with a casual improvised contemporary dance during which we were encouraged to leave. But we couldn’t. We couldn’t because we didn’t want to miss any more of the magic and also because it was the best contemporary dance piece I have witnessed for a long time and who wants to walk out on Orinoco Flow. Someone did though and they missed a further treat.

So what was it? This Kraken. I wasn’t sure to begin with; I couldn’t work out whether his name was Kraken because Trygve Wakenshaw just didn’t seem like a name so I came in cold, knowing nothing which was the best way. Physically he resembled Karl Valentin, incredibly long legs, apparently interchangeable arms and a countenance that switched from mischief to menace and back to a basic look of merriment that seemed to say, “Look, its easy, see I do this, you laugh, that’s it …Better”

The show starts instantly, nakedly and he has us from the outset with his first dilemma which he then repeats to even funnier effect. You have to see it, I don’t want to spoil it, just know it’s a ridiculous start. The show builds from there as we realize that we are in the hands of a masterful entertainer, a lovely clown and most importantly an extremely accomplished mime artist. The last time I saw a mime artist this good seriously, was Marcel Marceau and he was playing the Old Vic to a hushed audience, but this is modern mime, more fun, this is cabaret mime, something I would have thought impossible. He played with the audience from the outset, outlandish games, games of the imagination that flowed seamlessly from one setup to the next, from horse grooming to placing a freshly killed unicorn’s horn in the audience. Play was the spirit; this playful spirit inhabited the stage shape shifting like an etiolated goblin from one sketch to the next. Teasing the audience, stabbing the audience, abusing them charmingly and then when he did get an audience member on stage playing slap back with them, with real slaps. He shamelessly produced the old mime standards such as the glass wall but with such throwaway attitude that one might have forgotten the technical skill being displayed here. Even walking against the wind appeared as he segued from mime juggling (always better than real juggling) into skiing before reappearing as an eagle feeding its’ young. A particular highlight, the regurgitation scene amongst many unforgettable images. I haven’t seen physical theatre be this much fun since Toby Sedgwick from the Moving Picture Mime Show and his impression of frying bacon. There were so much imagination to treasure, as we witnessed the birth of a manatee, some self mutilation leading to the cooking of intestines, sword swallowing, (again so much more entertaining than the real thing) and the boxing match which reminded me delightfully of early footage of Jacques Tati performing his sporting mimes.

He had us from the moment it started till he let .us go at the end with what can only be described as a gothic grandmothers’ footsteps. Think the weeping angels from Dr Who and you’re close. Lighting was apparently operated by him, well not quite but it was a lovely part of the concept and he was the sound. He even talked!

A mime talks! Owie! This was a scandalously good show and mime is definitely the new rock n roll, move over clown, this man is leading a silent revolution. I defy anyone to see this and not be converted


First published in FringeReview