Ennio Marchetto: Paper With A Pulse

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Venetian mime artist Ennio Marchetto is a real curiosity, a genuinely unique performer who draws on the rich, but largely forgotten heritage of the traditional fool, but brings it bang up-to-date in his own, distinctive way.

He's essentially a human cartoon, broadly but affectionately caricaturing his targets through the unusual medium of, erm, paper.

Elaborate costumes are constructed with an ingenuity that would put a Blue Peter presenter to shame, producing bold, bright outfits that instantly identify his intended victim, more often than not a musical diva.

The humour is along the same lines as that old Kenny Everett parody of Rod Steward, in which his buttocks dramatically inflate through the chorus of Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? - silly visual comedy driven by a sense of fun and mischief rather than malice.

All the usual drag act targets are there - Marilyn, Madonna, Barbra Streisand - alongside other classic icons such as Louis Armstrong and Freddy Mercury. But he's also diligent in keeping up to date, with spoofs of Shakira, Eminem and Kylie's Can't Get You Outta My Head video in the mix, too.

The real joy, though not in the unsubtle parodies, but in the cunning design of the outfits, with concealed hinges and reversible accessories that allow Marchetto to metamorphosise elegantly and seamlessly from one character to the next, usually making a bitchy point in the process.

To see Cher's transform into R2-D2 or Sophie Ellis Bextor, brilliantly, into ET is a delight. It's the origami version of Transformers: Robots In Disguise.

As a whole, his hour-long show tends towards the witty rather than the laugh-out-loud funny; and the paper-based humour is, to use an unavoidable pun, pretty two-dimensional.

But the inventiveness is astounding, the stagecraft unparalleled and the independent spirit admirable. It's certainly a very different way to spend a comedy hour.

Steve Bennett
Leicester Comedy Festival
February 12, 2002

Review date: 12 Feb 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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