Tape Face – The Boy With Tape On His Face Until 23rd July
Review by Edward Gosling
Understated and superbly strange Tape Face is a show that twists and turns and asks it’s audience to suspend their disbelief and enjoy the pure silliness on offer. The Boy With Tape On His Face has come a long way over the years. Appearing in various cabarets he graduated to longer critically acclaimed shows at Edinburgh Fringe, via some excellent performances recently on America’s Got Talent to a seven week run at the Garrick theatre off Leicester Square.
Over this time his material has been reworked and refined into this strange meta-referential show of just under two hours. He is a consummate performer and from the moment he steps on stage with his exaggerated movements and intense eyes he gets the audience fixated on him. This is a technical one man show, with a huge number of props, sound and lighting cues all working together to create moments and small tapestries. It also – be warned front rows – is a show that relies heavily on the audience to make the tableaus come together. Be prepared to come and look like a total idiot in front of a theatre full of strangers. The humour is very gentle and forgiving however; it’s absurdist strangeness makes fun of the world and isn’t ever mean or attacking the brave volunteers who make it possible.
A huge amount of the comedy comes from the surprise nature of the different scenes, which means I will avoid details. But by it’s nature it also relies on how “good” the audience member is who is brought on stage. When the right person is on stage The Boy With Tape On His Face is excellent, aping their movements and making fun of their misunderstandings to great effect. Unfortunately, if someone is less fun then some of the set pieces feel more staged set numbers and lack the wild improvised nature of the best moments. Overall, the show is incredibly fun – it’s a strange surreal ride that feels at each moment like it really could go anywhere.
The overall framing device fits the content of the show beautifully, creating many shows within shows and worlds within worlds. Puppetry, clowning, mime, improv all used together to make the journey possible. However, within all these micro-pastiches and referential reflections perhaps there isn’t some element that takes this show beyond the frivolous and entertaining to touch you on a deeper level.
Tape Face is a wonderfully creative show that is unique, different and special. If you have never seen The Boy With Tape On His Face before then this is a great way to see this wholly unusual artist in his own setting. It is joyous fun that celebrates absurdity and a break from the everyday world. Go see!