Nautilus is Gaulier-trained mime artist Trygve Wakenshaw’s third major UK show. It’s a series of loosely connected vignettes, mostly involving attempts at animal murder and animal revenge. With less audience interaction than Kraken and not so much of a narrative thrust as Squidboy, this show is more mime-focussed, and sketch-like – which, as it turns out, is totally OK.
Wakenshaw as a performer is brill. His mimes are visually complex – often abstract, often cross-referencing, nearly always real gross. It’s an achievement, given this, that he manages to get the whole room to follow him – when if presented with the textual equivalent (which would be something like one of William Burroughs’ most baffling novels) most would probably give up, disgusted and defeated. It’s because his mimes are so well observed, carefully executed and sensorily felicitous that he can get away with it. These qualities combined mean that it requires little effort on our part to see tears sizzle as they fall from the eyes of a chicken onto an oven floor, and be reminded of water being ladled in a sauna – providing the conceptual groundwork for said chicken’s escape.
Even without his inventiveness and indubitable skill as a mime, Wakenshaw has the ability to hold an audience. A highlight is a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s You Make Me Feel, mimed twice (the second time from a backing singer’s perspective). It’s simple and it’s stupid – and it’s a perfect demonstration of Wakenshaw’s ability to draw the audience in on the thinnest of threads.
Silly, oddly cerebral and masterfully executed, Nautilus is good enough that it can even be excused for containing a crucifixion fellatio scene. I think.