No text, no props, one light. Performance artist Thomas Monckton laid down some provocatively stringent parameters to frame his 2017 solo show Only Bones. Fellow New Zealander Trygve Wakenshaw may have taken these constraints as a starting point, but his pleasantly daft response-piece, v1.4, delights in tweaking, transgressing and ultimately abandoning them.
Appearing as a part of London’s International Mime Festival, it’s a snappy series of skits, performed beneath a pivoting programmed spotlight that communicates with the audience through an appealingly snarky text-to-speech recording. Beneath its pointed glare, Wakenshaw energetically flails and frolics. He has an affable, often self-parodying presence.
The show’s opening segment sees Wakenshaw reacting to disjointed sound effects, lip-syncing to fragments of song and pulling faces at scrambled interviews with Monckton. Later, we get more developed set-pieces, from precise studies of hand gestures and facial expressions, to an absurd sequence in which he leaps frantically about the space conjuring up the ever-expanding line-up of a folk band replete with flutes, fiddles and a ludicrously low-slung bass.
The best gag comes late in the performance, when Wakenshaw directs the audience in the manner of an orchestra conductor, invoking an imaginary fly that rapidly circles the auditorium accompanied by a Mexican wave of improvised buzzing.
There’s no doubting the skill and imagination underpinning all the farcical physicality, but the intentionally slapdash tone – and some painfully mistimed cues – grate within the tightly choreographed structure. Ultimately, it all feels less like thoughtful minimalism and more like silliness.