Nautilus, Trygve Wakenshaw, Shelley Theatre, 15th October
Trygve Wakenshaw is all arms and legs as he bursts onto the stage with a wildly silly disco dance, high fiving a few random members of the audience as he begins. His slightly-too-small clothes exaggerate his large frame to comic effect, as this one man surreal sketch show brings us the zany zoo of animals and people that form his world.
One by one we are introduced to characters that crop up later in the performance. We first meet the chicken as it nervously prepares to cross a busy road. By the end of the show, it has become a well- loved character who has married a man (with no objections from the congregation! ) and it has demonstrated culinary skills with its own eggs.
Animals are played with meticulous detail, including a cat whose renditions of songs from musicals are interrupted by furballs. There’s a sedated velociraptor in a domestic setting, and a cow asserting the right to her own udder: “Moo means moo !”
Jesus makes a few appearances, as Wakenshaw skilfully balances the delicate material to stay on the side of good taste. One of the highlights is his miming to Carol King’s “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” using facial expressions and gestures to hilarious effect.
The show ends superbly with an extremely inept stripper who lacks the necessary skills in undressing, and appears to have a plethora of false body parts.
After the performance, Trygve explains how his show and characters have slowly evolved. “I just did stuff, and if people laughed I kept it in.” It’s not unusual for him to set up tour dates for a named show with nothing definite worked out. This approach clearly works, as the results appear to be finely choreographed sketches.
Nautilus is a comic triumph, and it has been my personal festival highlight. I would never have thought that an hour and ten minutes of comic mime could pass so quickly. Trygve Wakenshaw deserves to be a household name, and recognised by spellcheckers worldwide. He should be prescribed by the NHS for a wide range of ailments. All I can say is go and see this show, even if you hate the idea of comic mime.