An astronaut in a space station, a YouTube cooking show, evicted apartment residents and a romance on the rocks are a few of the dramatic and antic incidents depicted in Take Shape, an entertaining full-length program of mime. It’s presented by the Broken Box Mime Theater (BKBX), which was founded in 2011, and whose mission is “to activate the imagination of our audiences, to contemporize the art of mime, and to remind us all of the simple power of storytelling.”
Take Shape is a collaboration by the company’s members, many of whom appear in rotation at various performances. This creative troupe is comprised of Nick Abeel, Becky Baumwoll, Ismael Castillo, Julia Cavagna, Géraldine Dulex, Blake Habermann, David Jenkins, Marissa Molnar, Kristin McCarthy Parker, Tasha Milkman, Regan Sims, Jae Woo and Josh Wynter.
The dynamic ensemble is clad in traditional all-black, with their faces adorned with light white makeup; they offer an engaging and accomplished demonstration of the art of mime. Each of the distinctive performers’ physical fluidity, precise gestures and expressive facial features richly render the various roles. Performed on a sizeable bare playing area with the occasional addition of black wooden blocks, the staging has an often-exhilarating choreographed quality. The assured placement of everyone, couples, various groups and solos, is all seamlessly interwoven for accomplished presentational effect.
The Broken Box Mime Theater’s artistic credo also involves high-tech production design which is on display in Take Shape. Yang Yu’s rapid eclectic lighting, Bill Toles’ varying modulated sound and Cinthia Chen’s moody abstract projections all are theatrical enhancements. Music director Jack McGuire’s clever original score references pop melodies, electronic and science fiction themes which all perfectly accompany the sequences.
The show’s program lists the pieces and performers sometimes hold up title cards. It’s possible to just take in the totality of the experience rather than trying to distinguish each sequence and its actual plot. Take Shape lasts one hour and 40 minutes including an intermission which should be considered by those who are ambivalent about mime.
Take Shape’s superior mime presentation affirms BKBX’s goal of “reimagining the medium for contemporary audiences…”
Take Shape (April 1 – May 1, 2022)
Broken Box Mime Theater
Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.brokenboxmime.com
Running time: one hour and 40 minutes with one intermission