It’s safe to say there are few comedy shows in the festival that come close to Sabrina D’Angelo’s Body Poet. It’s a strange and somewhat uncomfortable mix of performance art and abstract comedy that has the potential to go somewhere but is stranded by a lack of structure or storyline.
The concept of a performer, alone and silent on stage, is not new. But D’Angelo succeeds in making the idea her own through her kooky demeanour, relaxed self-awareness and wonderfully agile facial movements (exploited most keenly in the opening sequence). Body Poet isn’t a show that shoots for quick laughs; its humour comes from forcing the audience to confront something bizarre in its purest form and having the good sense to enjoy it.
Still, it’s difficult to invest oneself in this show because it offers nothing for the audience to hold on to. Body Poet is a series of relatively unconnected skits bereft of storyline or meaningful theme. It means the audience must re-orient themselves for each new scene, connect the dots and then settle into the performance again.
And while words seem to be against the spirit of Body Poet, music is not, if the last few scenes are anything to go by. But this seems to come too little, too late; where music could have emphasised the humour in certain playful moments—such as a ventriloquist bear’s sneaky movements, an apple love scene or some over-the-top scarf modelling—the audience is instead met with silence, a sure dampener of any laughs.
Body Poet has some great, quirky ideas that challenge comedy norms. It has a sure spark of originality and the signature of its artist tattooed all over it. But without a stronger kind of structure or storyline, it’s difficult to remain engaged for the show’s duration.
Sabrina D’Angelo in Body Poet is on at the Northcote Town Hall, Thu-Sat 9pm, Sun 8pm until April 21st.