The London International Mime Festival is one of the most endearing of festivals. The shows are generally short, inventive and full of pleasant surprises and Leandre’s Nothing to Say is the very epitome of this ethos.
Creator and solo performer Leandre Ribera plays a bumbling but ingenious sock-fetishist spending some quality time in the mayhem of his home. It’s a magical place populated by ghosts, three-legged tables and hundreds, possibly thousands, of yellow socks. They’re everywhere, these socks, lurking in drawers, in cupboards and they’re scattered all over the floor. They even get sprayed out into the audience and it’s a pink pair that eventually symbolise his love.
Despite his apparent joie-de-vivre, he’s actually a lonely fellow looking for love and companionship, and his narrow tightrope walk between melancholy and slapstick is beautifully traversed by Ribera. He has a mournful but elastic face and possesses a doleful charm that can turn despondency to hope with the twinkle of an eye.
He’s an old-school clown, really, with an obvious love of Chaplin and surreal whimsy. Nothing makes sense and yet, somehow it does. When he tries to clumsily seduce a young lady with the help of his abandoned reflection, it doesn’t seem odd. Nor does his acceptance that an audience of hundreds seem to have somehow got into his tiny little house. And obviously a doorbell that rings before being pressed is completely normal.
It’s a fun place to be and its great joy lies not only in the well thought out set-pieces but also in the little details; the frustration of fruitlessly trying to grab the cereal packet, for example, or the way boxes fall to the floor whenever the door is closed. The only slight downer for me was the audience-member participation routines that regularly popped up – the fact they’d been so obviously prepped didn’t fit in with the general flow of freedom.
Not to worry though. A show that can generate vociferous cheers when someone manages to throw a sock into a dustbin from no great distance clearly has something going for it. And there’s also the best impersonation of a fish I’ve ever seen. Nothing to Say is, in short, absolutely charming.
Nothing to Say runs at Jackson’s Lane in North London until 22 January 2017. For tickets try the Jacksons Lane website.