– By Alison Guerrero-Heideman –
The thing that comes to mind when I see a show like the United Kingdom’s A Man of No Importance is “specificity.” In a pantomime play like this one, your movements have to be so specific and deliberate that there can’t be any question as to what action you are doing. That’s what makes the comedy work. And, boy did these actors nail it!
The story is of a man who dreams about being a spy while working as a janitor at a spy agency, and one day finds that his dream coming true is a bit more stressful than he would have liked. What with the bombs, the cackling eye-patch-wearing villain, and the ‘lazer’ grid (the disarming of which is one of the best gags in the show), being a spy is not all drinking martinis with the gorgeous femme fatale. The style brought to mind spy shows like “Get Smart,” minus the catchphrases, as all the actors were mumbling gibberish and making their own sound effects more than they were speaking full words.
The set was very minimal, with props often being used as multiple things. A sheet of plastic is both a parachute and the ocean. A trenchcoat and hat are also a shower curtain and a sink. And a suitcase gets used as a bazooka. Sometimes even the actors became set pieces, like a shower or full body scanner.
Along with specificity, timing is everything in these plays. The actors’ movements across stage, their entrances and exits, and physical comedy were timed up perfectly to the music and sound cues (which, I think I overheard as being over 140, which is amazing for a 50 minute show!)
If you have a chance to see this show, and you don’t take it, then the secret police stationed in the back of the theatre will be having a word with you.