Whispering Out Loud
Sergio Martinez, Socal.com Editor
Aug 12, 2005
Telepathy is merely a concept, right?
Not if you attended one or both performances of that mime genius known as Billy the Mime at Sacred Fools Theatre in Hollywood.
Before you, complete stories unfold, mind you, untold.
As the mime contorts, points, jumps and turns, completely coherent and understandable narratives are transmitted from him to the audience and by the sounds of it, most spectators are not only understanding him but bursting out in laughter with the subtleties of his jokes.
The themes are both understated and obvious: JFK Jr., A Day Called 9/11, San Francisco Days 1979, Romance, A beautiful woman in the park, A crippled boyís dreams and these are just a few of the more than two dozen routines he covered during his show.
As he salutes on his knees, you realize Billyís parodying the famous photograph of JFK junior at his fatherís funeral. You guess the rest: dating, dating, dating, flying, dying. Not in a lifetime could I guess so much information can be transmitted so accurately with mimicry.
When Billy introduces the dreams of a crippled boy, you actually get to ëseeí what the boy dreams about while fighting his particular handicap. Billyís expressivity surpasses that of most storytellers who have the luxury of speech. Billy the mime needs only a suggestive title for his routine and the rest, his silent impersonations will clarify it for everyone to understand.
Loveís roller-coaster is tackled in a routine aptly titled Romance. As he lies facing up with his back against the stage, his hands are the only tools to convey the complicated dynamics of couples: love, hate, passion, sex, disagreement, angerÖ all these so often experienced emotions are brought to life by the convincing motion of his two hands and arms. By the time the ëcoupleí gets ready to make love and one of the hands dons a huge yellow glove, the audience was hollering. No one attending could pretend they didnít
Politically charged topics are a fertile territory for mimes. After all, Censors from your friendly government agency will have a hard time claiming you ësaidí something against the law of the land. Mimes, like comedians, are one of the few categories in the arts where a complete frontal attack against the establishment is not only permitted but expected. Billy the Mime was no exception: Bush during 9/11, the terrorists, gays and AIDS, Drug usageÖ nothing is taboo for someone who without the need for words can still thoroughly ëcoverí these topics.
Sacred Fools Theatre deserves commendation for their constant effort to bring to their stage truly daring performers. To have a sold-out show two nights in a row sounds almost like a miracle for a Mime spectacle, but thatís precisely what happened. But when you get to see Billy doing his routine, you understand why:
In front of you, someoneís bodily contortions are whispering ñdirectly inside your brain- clear meaning and connotation.
Apparently storytelling, in Billy the Mimeís case, needs no telling.