After greeting the audience with a quiet “hello” and a brief pause, the shy-looking Canadian, complete with tweed waistcoat and sideburns, mutters “time to play” whilst easing off a baffled audience member’s right shoe. An intriguing start to what proved to be a delightfully entertaining performance featuring the lost magical art of shadow puppetry.
Mop heads, balloons, gardening gloves, old T-shirts and a healthy dosage of masking tape combine to perform a horse race, a game of chess and brain surgery. In the hands (and feet) of this man the assortment of mundane items littering the stage are magically transformed into a series of delightfully detailed black and white animations.
His Mr Bean-like demeanour at once charms the audience as they share in his joyful assembly of items. And it is this audience participation that proves to be the real treat of this show. There is no fancy gadgetry here, no technological mysteries, the techniques he uses are laid bare for all to see, the contortions and poses he makes to create the silhouettes are as much a part of the performance as the shadows on the screen.
As he leaves the stage to an enthusiastic round of applause he utters his most coherent sentence of the whole 50 minutes, “Remember no matter how busy you are there is always time to play”, and judging by the room full of childishly grinning faces, the message was received load and clear.
Underbelly, 5-29 Aug (not 17), 2pm