Spoleto 2014 » Comedy

Ithamar Has Nothing to Say is Charlie Chaplin for the 21 century

Ithamar Speaks Volumes


It’s easy to mock silent film stars. With their over dramatic facial expressions and exaggerated makeup, the work of Greta Garbo, Rudolph Valentino, and Buster Keaton can seem strange to contemporary eyes. But Ithamar Enriquez, star of Piccolo Fringe’s Ithamar Has Nothing to Say, proved Thursday night that performing in silence is an art. And when done well, its also pretty dang funny.

The L.A. improv veteran laced together a series of vignettes for his show, each with a song to match. For example “La Vie En Rose” related to sketch of him as an old man and a seductive Latin beat saw him playing a lady of the night greeting (and ultimately murdering) a variety of lovers, all played by him. Enriquez really shined though when he kept his characters limited to no more than three people.

In one scene he played three men all attending a jazz show: one character was chill, listening to the music; another was gyrating and wiggling to the tunes; while the third physically reacted to each note sticking out his tongue spastically. And all three characters reacted to each other — a nearly impossible feat. As Enriquez used his elastic face to become three different men he had the audience mesmerized.

But mesmerization also required focus. To follow someone essentially miming to music, you really have to pay attention, so while I believe the audience was entertained throughout the show, it wasn’t a laugh a minute. In all honesty, Ithamar Has Nothing to Say really is performance art, with a side of humor. That’s not to diminish the work though. The improver’s huge character range and physicality was fascinating. I’ve never seen someone employ their eyebrow movement to such great effect. But some scenes fell flat and felt awkward. Let’s just say there was a puppet involved (think marionette fondling) that didn’t need to be there.

That’s not to say those scenes can’t be improved. Given that Ithamar Has Nothing to Say is essentially being workshopped in advance of becoming a web series, I’m sure adjustments will be made and will ultimately make it riveting online programming. For now though, if you want to see an incredible performer morph into about 40 different characters in roughly 45 minutes, absolutely buy a ticket to this show.

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