A Shut Up Comedy From Japan

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

The first 20 minutes of Gamarjobat’s show is a riotous, euphoric explosion of joyous physical comedy as this lithe Japanese duo conduct a fast-paced, perfectly choreographed feast of visual gags.

Stunt follows stunt in breathlessly fast succession, as these street entertainers made  good frolic with abandon through all the tricks of their hard-learned trade. Limbs are extended, or amputated, objects produced from nowhere, and visual trickery of all kind is skilfully employed.

They’re master craftsmen, but playful with it. Kids, naturally, love it – but the duo conspiratorially tease adults, too, for falling for such obvious illusion.

Everything is performed with split-second precision. Each momentary sideways glance, each vital sound cue, is hit with unfailing accuracy, and all performed to a vibrant soundtrack matching the furious pace of the piece.

It’s a level of energy they can’t hope to maintain for a full hour – and they don’t. Instead, the rest of the show is given over to an extended Rocky-style boxing parody, conducted in silence, save for the odd recorded sound effect.

This is a delicate, quiet piece. The bouts are recreated in balletic slow-motion, the aftermath depicted with touching melancholy.

There are moments of humour, a sly visual gag slipped in here and there to lighten the mood, but this is a much more serious mime compared to the laugh-out-loud comedy  promised by the high-energy opening.

The story is told with impeccable skill, from our hero’s triumph over a motley range of contenders to the punishing fitness regime; from his falling in love and quitting the game, right through to his final, reluctant return to the ring.

As  physical theatre, it’s expertly done, but for comedy it’s not consistently funny enough, Five stars for craftsmanship, though.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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