Success abroad has made this Japanese physical duo bigger names on the international festivals circuit than they are at home. But what’s such a joy about their largely wordless capering is how much sense it makes to all ages, all nationalities, all creeds — yes, even the have-no-time-for-mime creed. They don’t need words to chide us for our ho-hum applause when they come on – they can mock our apathy using gestures and grunts, playing two halves of the crowd against each other. From then on we are in thrall to the playful rivalry between Ketch! (dark suit, red Mohican) and HIRO-PON (dark suit, yellow Mohican), who act like two naughty brothers with firsts in clowning.
There are other acts around who might be able to match their mime skills: their sword-swallowing, their Jagger dancing, even (most blissful of all), their escalator routine. What Gamarjobat (“hello” in Georgian) offer is speed and a lightness of touch – so it’s their attitude that hits you, not their technique. They can sword swallow, but they’d rather have fun first pretending that they can’t. They can do magic tricks, but they’d rather have fun making it obvious that it’s false hands and feet and (even) bottoms they are chopping off. And when they start pantomiming, they do so with such conviction that several of the children in the crowd desperately shouted out helpful instructions: “He’s on your back!”
Shame that they end with a rock ‘n’ roll routine the length of an Allman Brothers album track instead of the length of a single. The overextended finale aside, though, this is wordless showmanship to shout about.