Review by Andrew M Collins
As an admittedly rather long in the tooth middle aged reviewer, having covered by now several hundred performances, it’s become pretty hard to impress me.
It’s not that I have become jaded, but I believe most artistic genre, be it music, theatre, dance or otherwise, does tend to stagnate over time.
The Show That Is…By Joe Marni
They eventually become homogenised and repetitive with originality increasingly hard to find. This was a welcome exception.
The Show That Is in a room above the Caroline of Brunswick in Brighton was compact, intimate, and, well, halved.
One of the performing duo had unexpectedly cancelled, leaving Joe Marni stranded as sole performer. This unfortunate turn of events meant he had to re-write the whole show in less than three hours.
Considering this, and us giving him much deserved leeway for a sometimes ad-hoc night, it turned out superbly. Marni is a dab hand at card tricks – which wowed and impressed, but being influenced by the great Houdini, we were also treated to rope tricks and a highly kinetic escape from a bonafide straight jacket – a feat first made famous in the early 1900’s by the great escapologist. It was quite something to behold.
A baffling mind reading illusion followed. We had previously all written down three things we liked onto small pieces of paper provided, sealed these in envelopes, then the envelopes had been placed into a canvas bag.
One was selected by an audience member at random, and Joe tried to guess the correct answers. With various chicanery, mental flourishes and writing on chalkboards, he was able to do just that. Perplexing and curious.
The pinnacle of the show, for me at least, especially as I was asked up on stage, was a nail into head trick.
On the small table between myself and Joe was a hammer.
He then unravelled a collection of nails, all neatly secreted into loops into a strip of cloth. Upon his request, I certified they were all real.
Then I was asked to take his pulse with one hand whilst tapping out the rhythm on the table with the hammer. He then affected going into a relaxed trance – initiated by sporadic convulsions – all great drama for sure … but then … but then … his pulse fluctuated, and finally … stopped.
It was most disconcerting. I relayed the information to the audience, and jaws started to drop. Joe then asked me to choose a nail which I duly did.
He then slowly inserted into his nose – horizontally. The final two inches (of the four inch nail) were tentatively tapped in with the hammer.
From my prime position across the table, it was gruesomely authentic. I was then required to firmly grasp the end of the embedded nail as he drew his head backwards, and it duly slid out.
It was something I won’t forget for a while.
A precocious and inventive young performer, with an array of impressive tricks and illusions already perfected, the dedicated and charismatic
Marni is very much worth seeing and supporting. You’ll be talking about it for quite some time afterwards I can assure you.
Joe Marni is next performing in his solo show “The Show That Is” on 2nd July at the Caroline of Brunswick.