Only Bones 1.4
London MIME Festival 2020

Reviewer's rating

The show’s light, a dynamic piece hanging from the ceiling, addresses the audience, initiating us to the mime show’s premise. Thomas Monckton, creator of Only Bones 1.0, set down a challenge: make a show with one light, no set, no props, no text, and no narrative, on a stage measuring one meter squared, probably in the form of a circle. Only Bones 1.4 by Trygve Wakenshaw builds from this minimalist mission.

Trygve rolls limply into the one meter squared circle and then becomes an antenna, changing signals on a radio until he becomes figures in a television screen. He is a boy yelling, a man taking a quick shower, a train rolling into station, Elvis Presley singing “Only You”, a golfer, a cracked window. “Who are you then?” asks the sound system, and he lip syncs “just a fly in the ointment.” “Can you do the inside box thing?” he does, and the box’s glass breaks. He becomes a fish, opens up his stomach, intestines, pulls out his heart. The light goes off for a long time and it comes back to be hit around like a tennis ball. Then all but his hands are covered in black, his knuckles crack, and he plays an invisible piano. He goes beyond the eighty-eight keys into a dreamy synthesizer, raising from deep red into airy blue, higher until the hand is shot and deflates back to the piano, but it falls into water and becomes a squid.

Only Bones 1.4 proceeds like this, becoming one thing and then another and merging and remixing them all as Trygve becomes a band—a flute player who gets distracted by a fly, inhales and chokes on it; a tambourine player who goes on even as the music’s stopped; a talented air-guitar player; a DJ mixer, dancer, raver, bass player basking low in dark blue light. And then surprise. Trygve builds immediate complicity with the audience, and we become a surround-sound system of insects, animals, and accents.

The show reveals the possibility and impossibility of its mission. Take away plot, and like in Beckett’s Unnamable, the story becomes the world that the actor/narrator creates out of his language—here, from movement, sounds, music, and excerpted phrases that form the partial expression of a person. It’s a very lovable collection, one that draws especially from Trygve’s identity as a mime artist, his interest in music, and a sense of anxiety as an artist at the idea of even his minimal resources—sound, a light—failing him. Albeit bumbling, Only Bones 1.4 is a compelling mime show and a joy to behold.