Reviewing Theatre For Over 40 Years
Origami Was Never Like This!
In a brief stop at the Pasadena Playhouse this week, “ENNIO” has to be the most silly, charming, creative, impossible to describe show I’ve seen in a long time. Performance artist Ennio Marchetto has created a nonstop one-hour montage/send-up of pop culture icons which must be experienced to be appreciated. I suppose I could just stop there, but this really is worth trying to explain.
Marchetto’s comedic punch comes from his two-dimentional, paper costumes – most of which have the ability to morph from one personality to another – which create quick-flash impressions of everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Luciano Pavarotti to Marilyn Monroe to Lady Gaga. It’s like famed female impersonator (and Playhouse grad) Charles Pierce on speed, in flat costumes, lip-syncing in three or four languages. Yet even that doesn’t quite cover it.
Marchetto began this triumph by winning major performance awards in his native Italy, then traveling to the Edinburgh Festival, where the acclaim grew. By now he has performed in at least 70 countries, and the Playhouse will be his exclusive Southern California stop.
This whole enterprise could be very ridiculous were it not for the artistry Marchetto brings to the whole thing. Though one can often only see his face in the costumes, his sense of imitative movement, and his extraordinarily facile face do much to create the many characters. Often, it is the facial features which make the bit work, far more than the costumes.
The costumes, created with help from fashion designer Sosthen Hennekam, are fascinating pieces of engineering. In Marchetto’s brief, two or three minute bits, he will appear from behind a screen as one character, then often fold his costume a bit and suddenly become someone else. The juxtaposition of the characters becomes part of the fun (Queen Elizabeth morphs into the rock band Queen, for example), though many times the design would be intriguing on its own.
“ENNIO” ‘s nonstop hour of this madness feels both like a full-length performance, and just short enough to leave the audience wanting more. It must be exhausting to create, as Marchetto goes through dozens of quck-changes, never letting the pacing lag.
One small caution: though there is nothing overly scatological some costumes range from PG-13 to R. Those who don’t like cartoon nudity should stay away. Also, enjoyment is greatly enhanced if you have some notion of the last few years-worth of popular music. Otherwise Pink’s controversial Grammy Awards outfit or Madonna’s signature bustier may leave you scratching your head.
But if you’re ready for an unusual but rather amazing hour of entertainment, run to the Pasadena Playhouse before “ENNIO” leaves. It truly is an impressive sight. Need a preview? Check the Pasadena Playhouse website.
What: “ENNIO” When: Through August 28, 7 p.m. tonight and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday Where: Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave. in Pasadena How Much: $15 – $29 regular, $100 premium Info: (626) 356-7529 or http://www.pasadenaplayhouse.org