FRINGE REVIEW – Billy The Mime, Bonehead Productions


By Susanna Mulvihill

Mime in the 21st century is something more commonly associated with street performers pretending to be trapped in boxes than with satire and black humour, but Billy The Mime spits out this image with the same prolificacy with which he pretends to spit out his teeth. The Fringe programme warns that this show is not for children or the easily offended and this is not an exaggeration.

The production is split into several scenes on different topics, ranging from the life of Michael Jackson to The History of Art. In the monochrome uniform and make-up of mimes popularised by Marcel Marceau, Billy The Mime introduces each skit with a sheet of A2 paper bearing the title of the next depiction. A metal trunk sits centre stage, containing a few odd bits and bobs produced at various moments throughout the show, and in itself is used as both a bed and a drum at different points.The occasional well placed and clever prop, most memorably a rubber glove, aids the visual humour and adds a subtle variation to the performance. Each sketch was accompanied by a carefully selected soundtrack, including an a capella rendition of Ravel’s Bolero, the Mission Impossible theme and Eric Satie’s Gymnopedies. Billy is clearly very skilled and talented and each piece was well devised and excellently performed.

If when you see the word ‘Mime’ in a show title you’re looking for a slapstick, laugh-a-minute, Buster Keaton-esque show this is definitely not for you. The humour is dark; very, very dark, and some of the scenes might be a little hard for some to stomach. The Priest and The Altar Boy, for instance, feels less funny than disturbing in it’s depiction. There are some wonderful moments – Whitney Houston’s Last Bath and The Clown And The Beautiful Woman probably being the stand-out pieces, but some of the subject matter is more of a social commentary than humorous. Comedy should be challenging, but much of this show elicited more sharp intakes of breath than laughs from the audience.

Billy The Mime, Bonehead Productions is on at Just The Tonic @ The Caves until 23rd August (not 14,17,18 or 19) 18.15 (1hr)

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