They say actions speak louder than words. This is exercised to the fullest effect in One By One, a quirky and charming silent show directed by Pedro Ilgenfritz that takes place in a world where words do not yet exist. Bonnie and Marty’s paths cross in a fortuitous encounter at a park and from that moment on their lives are changed forever.
Katie Burson and Cole Jenkins draw us in and take us along on this adventure of tragi-comic proportions where in the absence of words, exaggeration is key. Expect lots of comical wide-eyed facial expressions, melodramatic jaunty marches up and down the stage and madcap shenanigans of the slapstick kind. Burson and Jenkins do all of this effortlessly and with a childlike innocence that perfectly complements and serves the narrative brilliantly.
The other integral element of the show which I thought was executed extremely well was the use of live music to set the pace and tone of each scene. Jews Brothers band musicians John Ellis and Nigel Gavin are a well-oiled machine – they fittingly employ an eclectic mix of score and sounds throughout this silent love story which I felt really added a great rhythmic pulse to the performance. Sometimes they don’t get it quite right though and consequently they are directed by the two characters themselves which I thought was a nice touch.
Bonnie and Marty’s breaking of the Fourth Wall doesn’t stop there. Just as they have invited us in to this playful and musical world of gestures and mime similarly they just as readily jump into ours. Personal space may be invaded and if you’re lucky enough, you may even get to participate too.
The stage appears stark and bare with only three pieces of furniture and a set of vertical “ribbons” that cross each other to form a skeletal wall. This inconspicuous minimalist set created by Rachel Walker and though modest is the perfect “blank canvas” for the action that unfolds.
Unfortunately One By One is only running for a very short season – there are only two more opportunities to catch this fun and whimsical homage to silent film and I strongly recommend that you do! You will be thoroughly entertained and more importantly you will be convinced that a world could exist without spoken word.
For tickets and more information, click here.
The Whimsical Banana rates One By One: 4/5 bananas!
One By One is a production funded by LAB Theatre and is presented as part of the Auckland Fringe.
This review is also featured on Keeping Up With NZ.