We’re nearing the end of MICF for 2013. You have probably seen standup, maybe even some improvisational acts or musical comedy. If you want to round out the experience, I’m pretty confident you haven’t seen physical comedy quite like Body Poet. It’s an oddly amusing series of vignettes featuring mime and some eccentric characters at the Northcote Town Hall.
Sabrina D’Angelo pursued a physical form of theatre in her memorable Melbourne Fringe 2012 show We are Happy in the Bosom of the Dear Leader. Those who enjoyed her puppetry with an onion in that show will find similar skills employed with an apple character in this outing. Also present this time is that highly expressive face, but Body Poet takes this even further as D’Angelo seemed able to open her mouth like a boa constrictor unhinging its jaw.
Aside from the oddity of facial gymnastics, D’Angelo gives us about an hour of physical humour where she uses her fluency in different styles of body language, including “Kate Bush meets Monkey Magic”. Her attitude and mannerisms define a range of characters and it’s fun to spot how she’s processed influences, from a childlike character through to her slithery, confident Mr Bean-like presence. Unlike We are Happy, this show is mostly sketches, which, like early Sam Simmons, seemed to value absurdity for its own sake, a style that often has left me yearning for more substance. It is a tribute to D’Angelo’s characterisations and skill that I didn’t get bored with this. For me, the most successful part of the show was when characters from an early segment returned later to give us a deeper story.
As for entertainment value, the crowd enjoyed themselves consistently on the review night. If I were to be critical, there were some segments that were somewhat overdone and an ending that, whilst entertaining, could have been better connected to something that had come before. This aside, there were many unpredictably fun moments and I look forward to seeing how the show has matured in a future season.