by Lynn on April 26, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Theatre Centre, Toronto, Ont. until May 1, 2022.

Directed by Adam Paolozza and Kari Pederson

Text by Adam Paolozza

Original music by Arif Mirabdolbaghi

Performed by SlowPitchSound (Cheldon Paterson)

Lighting designed by Andre Du Toit

Costumes, set and projections by Evgenia Mikhaylova

(based on original designs by Allie Marshal (costumes) and Anahita Dehbonehie (set and projections)

Cast: Nicholas Eddie

Rob Feetham

Ericka Leobrera

Adam Paolozza

The set is simple. A white sheet/screen is suspended at the back. A large round white form is on the floor. To the side is a table with a turntable and a sound-board (?) with lots of buttons and nobs to push.

Songs in Italian play the audience into the space which seems appropriate considering the title. A character enters in a Pierrot costume wearing a white paper crown  and walks to the desk. This is SlowPitchSound. He does an extended riff with a record and the turntable tapping the buttons, pushing the nobs and producing various sounds and rhythms. Complex, dexterous, joyful. Then the actual show begins and SlowPitchSound provides sound effects for the mime portion that is not intrusive or distracting.

A character (Rob Feetham) enters bent over with a straight back, slowly ‘chasing’ a large, inflated ball. Is the ball the moon or some other unattainable thing? The character just misses catching the ball but does flip over it in various ways of elegant clumsiness. And leaves, kicking the ball.

Other characters, (Ericka Leobrera and Nicholas Eddie) enter also, enacting silently. Philosophical musings on art and life are voiced in Italian by an unseen Adam Paolozza, with the English translation projected on the screen/sheet at the back. Some of the musings express the futility of the exercise to do mime or even theatre. Indeed, the inspiration of the piece is the 2003 suicide of an Italian mime who felt that his craft was no longer respected or even relevant.

Adam Paolozza enters, wearing the Pierrot costume, black tights and ‘ballet’ slippers, sits in a chair and applies white makeup to his face. He seems despondent, sad, resigned in his activity. One segment of the show is a planned talk-back with the other performers with Nicholas Eddie asking Adam Paolozza the lamest, most insensitive questions about his art. Later Paolozza will be asked ‘to do the box’, the enactment of miming being in an imaginary box, a fundamental exercise in mime. He does it, beautifully but again, with a kind of resignation.

While the inspiration for Italian Mime Suicide is an actual suicide, no such despair suffuses this artful, thoughtful, deeply thought production. Paolozza has been perfecting his art in mime for years and the audience is the beneficiary of this gift. He and his fellow ‘albatrosses’ take this artform and communicate their message in the purist of ways—with silence, movement and gesture. It’s full of wit, humour, purity and art. And it’s never irrelevant.

While I appreciate the soundscape of SlowPitchSound for the actual show, the showy segment at the very beginning of the show is totally out of place and distracting. The point of Italian Mime Suicide is the pure form of the art of mime, not the showy, showoffy form of making sounds and noise seem clever.  

Produced by Bad New Days

Plays until May 1, 2022

Running time: one hour

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