The Boy With Tape On His Face


Until August 26


THE title tells a bit but not all: the duct tape is actually on the mouth, and the "boy" is 33-year-old Sam Wills, a Kiwi performance artist who has some of the look and manner of Italian actor-comedian Roberto Benigni. At least he does from the back of a packed, hot and cavernous Pleasance Grand. There's a microphone on the stage but – and this is a neat touch – it's never used, only tapped occasionally for its percusive properties. The set is equally simple: cardboard boxes containing props, a red chair and a table with a red button which, when pressed by an audience member, starts a countdown that sounds every 15 minutes. Elswhere a bin bag is used to turn an audience member into Darth Vader, rubber plungers are thrown at a man wearing a toilet seat as the William Tell Overture plays and a woman becomes a flamenco dancer using wind-up toy teeth as her chattering castanettes. The well-oiled audience found it all hilarious. I didn't, but that's not the point: Wills's silent, props-based, street-busker-on-the-big-stage performance doesn't need laughter to shine. Mind you, the colourful finale involving a hood, a pair of oven gloves and every single audience member would bring a smile to anyone's face.