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The Boy with Tape on His Face - More Tape (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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More Tape is a show that demands a high level, and unusual type, of audience participation. A well-spoken introductory voice-over encourages us to take part- or feel like a cock. But there is a timetable to be observed as an early participant inadvertently starts a countdown towards an unknown but ominous conclusion.  

Sole performer Sam Wills has sealed his mouth with gaffer tape (hence the name) and communicates what is required of participants through gestures and his expressive eyes. The complex set-ups involve the use of ordinary objects to extraordinary effect.

For the audience a large part of the fun is trying to second-guess Wills and work out what is going on before the punchline is revealed. The extensive use of background music from films helps comprehension. The Star Wars theme lets you know that a metal tape measure represents a light sabre. Serigo Leone’s Spaghetti Western theme sets the scene for a weird shootout.

It is both a wonder and a joy when the meticulously constructed routines work. The best example involves a golfer trying to hit a hole in one the eventual achievement of which generates cheers. Wills is a superb mime but an economical performer and never extends a routine until it ceases to be funny or after the point is made. He mimes John Lennon from minimal props but drops the routine once the audience has recognised the character even though the song "Imagine" is unfinished.

More Tape achieves such a consistent level of hilarity that the show never really dips. The feel-good atmosphere ensures that even average routines (sky diving while the song "Free Falling" plays) get a laugh.

The concept of a non-speaking comic character is not new but Wills’s air of exasperation draws you into his surreal perception of the world so that the effect is closer to the absurdist situations of, say, Samuel Beckett than Mr. Bean.

Throughout the show we are reminded that the clock is ticking towards a menacing event. When it arrives the result is gloriously anarchic yet so utterly correct you realise the show could not have ended in any other way.

- Dave Cunningham


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