Thursday, May 15, 2008
The ultimate poster boy
With Ennio Marchetto (above), the puns come easy. He's a total cut-up; a swami of origami. You won't believe how his show unfolds, etc. The jokes are all too appropriate because Marchetto has made a career of turning himself into a kind of visual pun: he's a drag artist who costumes himself solely in paper, with half the joke being how cleverly one change is enveloped in another. The results, which are rather like watching a gay caricaturist toss off sketches at life size, are consistently charming, if slight. And at just over an hour, his schtick is both short for a full evening of theatre, but also timed to end just as it threatens to turn into too much of a good thing. His best bits hint at sly satire of their targets (like the slutty Kylie Minogue who morphs into the Singing Nun), or conceal cute conceptual conceits in their design (an Indian goddess who evolves into a three-headed, six-armed vision of the Supremes). And even though the spotlight is on his two-dimensional disguises (created with long-time collaborator Sosthen Hennekam), it should be noted that Ennio himself is a well-rounded mime and performer, with buoyant physical energy and the ability to nail Barbra, Liza, Celine, and almost every other diva alive with a few broad but precisely pointed strokes. True, the piece feels slightly dated - Ennio is essentially an affectionate, pre-millennial show queen with an origami gimmick; he never goes for the deadly, in-bred brilliance of, say, Varla Jean Merman or Kiki & Herb. At the same time, though, he's always a kick, and never a drag. At the Wimberley Theatre through June 1.