REVIEW: “SKIN”—A Whimsical Collection of Mime Shorts
It’s hard to think of a theatrical medium more commonly maligned than mime. Thankfully, one New York-based collaborative theatre company is resolved to change that by making mime cool again.
Founded in 2011, the mission of Broken Box Mime Theater (BKBX) is to contemporize the classic French art of pantomime, bringing its imaginative form of silent storytelling to new audiences by both embracing modern sentiment in substance and form, and honoring tradition.
“SKIN”, their latest production at A.R.T/New York Theatres in Midtown Manhattan, is a whimsical collection of some 15 short scenes all set to original music and performed without words, props, sound effects, or costumes by a limber and expressive company of nine performers dressed in black with traditional white oval masks of paint.
Actively rejecting the miming tropes of “unnaturally exaggerated movement, artifice”, and “cheesy gags”, the scenes in “SKIN” range in story and theme from a series of shorts featuring lizards and birds and a recurring scenario of a sculptor chipping at a block of marble, to a meditation on consent and memory, a mashup of the many ways parents protect their children “at any cost”, a celebration of “Black Girl Magic”, a son’s realization of a father’s predatory behavior toward women, a group of friends jumping into a lake, contestants competing in the 16th Annual Brooklyn Beard Awards, and a trailer for a sitcom called “Snail Cop”, to name a few favorites.
“SKIN” is imbued with wit and pathos, inviting the audience to imagine alongside the performers, and telling stories both sweet and sad—choreographed and performed with an exuberant energy and a big heart. Two “rests” during the performance allow the audience a moment to reflect and chat, and BKBX invites all audience members to share in a cup of tea with the performers in the lobby after the show.
The joyful spirit of this company is irresistible, and it is a treat to see a diverse group of artists collaboratively create such simple, beautiful, and funny stories with reverence for a unique theatrical art form. If your interest is even only mildly piqued, I suggest you get a ticket.
Bottom Line: Broken Box Mime Theater is determined to make mime cool again; with “SKIN”, a whimsical collection of 15 miming shorts, they more than deliver. Imbued with wit and pathos, and performed with an exuberant energy and a big heart, these silent stories are simple, beautiful, and funny—some tackling serious contemporary themes, others just pure kitsch.
Broken Box Mime Theater
Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre
A.R.T/New York Theatres
502 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
Running Time: 90 minutes (no intermission but two “rests”)
Opening Night: January 24, 2019
Final Performance: February 3, 2019
All tickets $25 in advance and $30 at the door