If the London International Festival has taught us one thing about that most niche of art form, it’s how instrumental audience engagement, active engagement, is to mime. While Watch the Ball and Parachute allowed us to inject our own visual trickery into constructing human forms from pingpong balls, Dewey Dell’s Marzo coaxes audiences into joining the narrative dots, pouring imaginations into abstract, charactered figures, allowing a cogent, immersive storyline to unfold in the Barbican Pit.
Walking into the black box space – draped with a white, convex, sheet, members of the audience are presented with a pair of earplugs – ‘for the noise’. An ominous start to a show, but a good call – this is certainly one of the loudest conceivable pieces of theatre imaginable. The noise is so dense it can be felt, almost tasted, as different characters and different actions trigger different drones, humming blasts of sound.
Marzo – Mars, the month of war, is a topic etched in expectations – violent, confrontational, physical expections. We (or at least I – many may have interpreted differently!) see a wounded soldier on a foreign planet, finding and nursing another being and their strange cohort of anatomically unique lackeys. When the other being years for their lover, the original soldier coaxes them into the picture. From there, violence, battle, anguish paint ensue in an enchanting, elusively physical representation.
Dewey Dell’s performance is something to witness – especially the three strange, inflated suits, housing strange, surreal alien creatures. They moved almost against time, pausing and starting at random intervals. The general costume design was special – carefully crafted pieces clearly inspired by Manga culture, though never aligning too closely to it. The sound design was equally accomplished – every drone, as loud as they were, corresponded to a specific movement or action. To get a taste of the show please do watch their trailer – it’s hard to stress how unique the endeavour was.
Mime is a terrifically exciting artform, but one that takes intense skill to get down right. Dewey Dell, for the most part, manage to construct emotions, tension and antagonism with static, unmoving faces. Gestures, blocking and comportment have to take the burden – something that this theatre company appreciate in spades. Violence can transform into romance, romance into confrontation – physicality can convey truth – but it can equally show just how terrifying truth can be. Catch this before it leaves our shores.