New West – Albuquerque – Weird Theatre
Tricklock’s Revolutions Theatre Festival is Shockingly Good
By Contributing Writer, Megan Kamerick, 1-23-06
It’s amazing what you can convey without words — at least if you’re Billy the Mime.
Based in Los Angeles, Billy was one of the many performers in town recently for Tricklock Performance Company’s Revolutions Theater Festival. As company founder Joe Peracchio explained Billy’s presence on the program, “We knew you had to see it.”
Throw away any preconceptions you have about mimes because this is like nothing you’ve ever imagined. Billy has trained with the masters like Marcel Marceau, but uses his skills to carve a unique path that shines a light on history and social ills. His repertoire is large and ranges from the last days of Jesus to a gay man’s night out in San Francisco, circa 1979.
The simple power of his gestures is riveting. We can all ponder how horrific it is that the most important founding father of our country kept slaves and had sex with them. But to see it portrayed in stark actions with no dialog to muddy the waters — well, that’s quite something else.
Billy takes us to Monticello where Thomas Jefferson graciously welcomes guests to a party and salon, exchanging witty dinner banter and playing his violin. This soiree is periodically interrupted; however, when he excuses himself, puts on his overcoat and takes a candle to make his way out to the slave quarters, there to copulate with, some might say rape, Sally Hemmings. No, none of these props are there and Billy is the only performer on an empty stage, but it all comes through clearly thanks to his considerable skills. The effect is stunning.
He gives a similarly breathtaking performance for a piece called “Slavery.” We see a man happily hunting, with the sound of African drums in the background, bringing his kill back to his large family to eat when suddenly men appear and bind him and drag him from them.
Next we see him placed on a block while an auctioneer prods his muscles and shows buyers his teeth, like a horse. When they finally string him up from a tree after he murders an overseer, he drifts back to his homeland in death.
Another scenario shows a woman getting an abortion. He plays her, the doctor — and the fetus. In “Terry Schiavo, Adieu,” his spot-on imitation of Schiavo’s smiling vacant face is simultaneously hilarious and disturbing. Ideologically, he can’t be pinned down and that’s also what makes him so intriguing.