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The Boy With Tape On His Face

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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It takes a brave performer to put so much faith in their audience as to make them integral to their show's success, but for The Boy With Tape On His Face the tactic pays rich rewards.

The Boy is endearingly naïve and optimistic; so much so that even with the (literal) strip of gaffer tape over his mouth, he need only use his gaze, a point and a beckoning hand to encourage audience members on to the stage. Once there, he relies solely on facial expressions and physical gestures to explain each participant's role in proceedings; some are more adept at interpreting his cues than others.

To say much more would be to break the spell before it is cast, but props (including an envelope and pencil, a builder's hat and hi-visibility vest, and modelling clay) and music (from sources as diverse as the Amélie soundtrack, the Jackson 5 and Elvis) help The Boy to befriend his audience. This is not a show about humiliating those called to participate; each one instead leaves the stage a hero who has played a unique part in creating The Boy's magical world. One lucky female participant even receives a special tape creation to take home as an awkwardly romantic thank you.

Descriptions of the show as 'stand up with no talking', 'prop comedy' or even 'mime' may be technically accurate, but they do scant justice to this thoroughly innovative and bewitching hour of comedy.

Of the 20 shows I saw at the Fringe, this was the only one to receive standing ovations. Let's hear it for The Boy.

The Boy With Tape On His Face will be touring the UK from September to November.

- Emma Watkins


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