Theatre Review: The Boy With Tape On His Face

Not the usual performance, ‘The Boy With Tape On His Face’ is a bizarre twist on anything you expect from the theatre.

Set in a dystopian reality, in between real life and a dream-like state, the performance is a waiting game.

The Lyric stage in Manchester’s The Lowry was transformed into a backstage dressing room. It had torn wallpaper, dishevelled furniture, dirty windows and an array of overflowing cardboard boxes. An overhead speaker announced that the show will begin in an hour and fifty minutes. This set in motion a strange countdown to a show we’re already watching.

The performer, Sam Wills, has tape across his face – creating a modern twist on the classic mime artist. His monochrome attire and striped t-shirt beneath his jacket subtly pay tribute to the heritage of his act. Body language and intense facial expression prove that so much can be said without saying anything at all.

Reminiscent of child’s play, ‘Tape Face’, as he is referred to by the intercom, turns every day, mundane objects into instances of hilarious entertainment. As he waits until his show begins, music from contemporary culture intertwines with the enactment of his vivid imagination. Solving a Rubik’s cube – or at least trying to – to the classic James Bond soundtrack has never been more engaging.

Building the foundation for the non-stop laughs, ‘Tape Face’ mimics the audience with success. By doing so, every show is unique. Whether he silently shames those who cannot follow his wordless instructions, or mocks a loud sneeze or laugh – the performance is guaranteed to leave the audience in stitches.

The audience participation within this show is unlike any other. For those who fear public participation in peculiar activities, the show probably isn’t for you. Dozens of audience members are continually called up to the stage and perform alongside the man himself.

The dramatic ending involves a desperate attempt to wake from the dream that is his show. Alongside the playing of Nena’s 2000 hit classic ‘99 Red Balloons’, the audience too are given hundreds of balloons. In an epic showdown, the entire theatre is one gigantic balloon, fun-filled frenzy and transports you to your childhood days.

‘The Boy With Tape On His Face’ filled every seat and was deserving of the standing ovation received when the show ended.

Wills’ show is the proof of the overwhelming enjoyment felt for something you wouldn’t imagine that you’d love.

With costumes, hats, puppets, oven gloves, bubbles and those unforgettable red balloons – this show is truly thrilling and uplifting.

TNT Arts & Culture Alexia Hendrickson

Photo Credit: The Lowry

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