Review – The Boy With Tape On His Face is Tape Face, Royal and Derngate, Northampton, 7th November 2016

tape-face-tourI’d heard great things about The Boy With Tape On His Face in the past and so leapt at the chance to book to see him on his current tour. So did hundreds of others because there wasn’t a seat left in the Royal – with the Dress and Upper Circles packed as well as the stalls. I booked our usual middle of Row C seats only to be told by Mr Smallmind that there is an awful lot of audience participation in his shows and that sitting near the front is taking a big risk; that’s why he chose to sit somewhere far away in the Dress Circle. However, gentle reader, distance from the stage is no guarantee that The Boy won’t winkle you out and drag you to the stage. Twice he nipped up into the circle to get fresh prey and in fact Mr Smallmind had to make up an excuse about having a gammy leg so he could be excused from stage-based humiliation. There is No Hiding Place.

boy-with-tape-on-his-face-new-zealand-americas-got-talentRecently Tape Face (as his new, streamlined identity has been rebranded) has been in the news as he was a huge hit on America’s Got Talent this year; his audition video of his performing Endless love with two oven mitts and The Lady in Red with his hands roving over himself is instant pure comedy genius. That was all I had seen of him before we saw the show, and I’m glad I hadn’t seen any more because the beauty of his show is the constant element of surprise. You really haven’t got a clue what piece of comic nonsense he’s going to attempt next. And, so that I don’t ruin it for you, I’m not going to tell you.

7d3dabe-02ab-11e3-_440206cWho knew that over two hours of mime could be so rewarding? Not a word is spoken – just facial reactions to sound effects, music clips, and of course, whatever his audience members are doing. His wide open eyes are just so expressive. Shock, surprise, ridicule, annoyance, mischief – he runs through all the emotions and you’re never in any doubt as to what he’s thinking. He has great clowning and circus skills, which get a really enjoyable airing; at one stage, it was like watching Sunday Night at the London Palladium as a child. Props? Dozens of them. Like a child he can create an intricate imaginary scene out of domestic bits and bobs. Balloons feature highly; I brought home two as souvenirs.

At one stage Mrs Chrisparkle wondered if he would be able to keep this act up for 130 minutes. No problem with that – you sense he could go on for hours; and when the end came I, for one, didn’t want to go home. He’s married to Lili la Scala – all I can say is, they must hold the most hilarious dinner parties. Tape Face is a wonderful, feelgood, carefree, escapist and extremely funny way to spend an evening. His tour continues through the UK for the rest of the year and in The Netherlands and Germany in early 2017. Perfect for all ages, blissfully ludicrous, creative mime par excellence; elements of old music hall and vaudeville given a smart modern twist. We loved it!