July 16th, 2015
Udderbelly at Southbank Centre

by Michael Anderson

Trygve Wakenshaw’s extravaganza of thrilling physical comedy has swept all before it for over a year now, presumably miming a broom with those incomprehensibly long limbs, collecting awards like stamps. The follow-up to the similarly acclaimed Squidboy, Kraken is an hour of free-associative delirium propelled by Wakenshaw’s phenomenal brio and supernatural elasticity.

Having spent two years at l’Ecole Philippe Gaulier, the Parisian clown school of international renown, Wakenshaw’s class is evident throughout. The studiously slapdash set builds with the elliptical precision of a bumblebee landing woozily on a daffodil: after a bravura opening striptease he is careful to bring his audience along with him, gently lampooning mime clichés and fixing his sights on potentially one-note targets before slowly turning the dial up to 11… then 12… and then ripping the dial off and smashing it on the floor. By the time he disembowels a unicorn with its own horn we are so in his thrall that Wakenshaw could simply smile coyly over his shoulder and still raise the roof. So, of course, he does.

Carefully calibrated audience interaction is crucial in fostering the anything-goes atmosphere which allows the second half to be so delightfully surreal (c/f unicorn gutting) and creates a tremendous sense of goodwill in the stalls. Beginning with basic (silent) call-and-response and careening on to outré front row shenanigans, before long people on the back row are unconsciously gurning along to mimed selfies and we are in the palm of Wakenshaw’s hand. He is careful not to let us out.

If you’re in Edinburgh this summer, you are summarily urged to get yourself a ticket to Kraken or his new show, Nautilus – or both, of course. (If you can’t get your hands on one then try miming it on the door and see what happens.) If you’re not going to Edinburgh, Nautilus previews at the Battersea Arts Centre on Monday 20th July, with tickets still available… I know, because I just bought mine. See you there.

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