Silence is golden. Perhaps that could be the motto of mimes. While the mime performers in the lively production See Reverse are indeed silent, their performances are accompanied by vibrant music selections which makes for a lively and entertaining evening at the theater.
The production is being presented by Broken Box Mime Theater and features a very talented troupe of eight performers (Nick Abeel, Becky Baumwoll, Duane Cooper, Géraldine Dulex, Blake Habermann, David Jenkins, Marissa Molnar and Matt Zambrano). Spaced over two acts, the production presents a number of scenarios ranging from a farcical retelling of Romeo and Juliet ("Plainview Community Players"), to vignettes with film noir themes ("The Good Detective") and political issues ("Heartland").
As I watched the show, I was reminded of other art forms in which mime is central - ballet and silent film, for example. The connection with silent film was enhanced during See Reverse by the projection of cue cards indicating the title of each segment of the production. Speaking of silent film, one of the most universally recognized and appreciated artist/entertainers of the twentieth century communicated through mime – Charlie Chaplin.
The music for the evening is on the whole contemporary, light and bouncy, consistent with the generally buoyant atmosphere of the show (although darker themes, such as the assembly of automatic weapons in "Automatic," are addressed). Interestingly, there is a vignette - "Communion" - featuring Brahms’ German Requiem which despite the heavier quality of the music, fits in well with the show's general ambiance. Ludwig van Beethoven's music also happily makes an appearance in the scene "The Whole Shebang" enhancing the eclectic and joyously unpredictable quality of the production.
The Broken Box Mime Theater was recently the recipient of two New York Innovative Theatre Awards for Outstanding Performance Art and Choreography/Movement and after watching the vibrant performance I can understand why. The periodic laughter of the audience indicated that they were engaged with the production. The performers also seemed to be enjoying themselves, which can only enhance the audience's appreciation of the performance as well.
See Reverse is innovatively led by the Artistic Director of the organization, Becky Baumwoll. The lighting design by Jamie Roderick also amplifies and subtly supports the creative atmosphere of the show.
I can’t say that I am the biggest mime enthusiast in the world, in fact I think that this was the first full length performance of mime that I have attended - and I found it very entertaining. My attention was consistently drawn to the inventiveness of the vignettes and the precision with which they were executed. The production has a sense of being very well rehearsed and precise while also maintaining spontaneity. With all of the cacophony in the world, it is also pleasant and refreshing to view situations that are communicated only non-verbally. After all, so many important things in life are conveyed through non-verbal gestures anyway, as anyone who has been the recipient of a cold stare or warm smile can attest.
See Reverse is performing through March 5 at the Paula Gural Theatre located at 502 West 53 rd St. in Manhattan. I am seriously thinking of seeing it again.