A Theatre Buff Reviews: Bigmouth

Bigmouth is an inspired production, brilliantly executed.

It’s a one man show with Valentijn Dhaenens as the writer and performer, and Jeroen Wuyts as his sound and light design technician. They make a powerful team.

The seminal idea for the production grew from Dhaenens’ decision to read one political speech a day. In the course of a year he had read more than 1000 speeches that span centuries, and cover a range of concerns that include political, religious, military, and moral issues. In time, patterns emerged. Dhaenens wove the speeches together to exemplify and profile the messages: war mongering, manipulation, mourning, celebration, defiance, apology, and abdication.

While the line-up may sound dry, the delivery and staging is anything but. The mash-up of the speeches by Goebbels and Patton was spellbinding. Dhaenens moved between microphones as he did an onstage ‘quick character change,’ multiple times, between the two historic speakers. In doing so, he captured the individual and diametrically opposed power of their respective delivery styles —elegant vs. brash, tempered vs.vociferous.

Dhaenens engages whether he is speaking in Latin, French or German. (For those of us who are less than multilingual, there are super-titles.) He captures cadence and accents superbly to portray English speaking characters that include Robert Kennedy, Nicola Sacco and F. Van Hecke.

The set is simple: multiple microphones are attached to an extended conference table, on which several glasses of water sit. Without giving anything away, I will note that the water is used for more than drinking. Looping music is interspersed throughout the production as an effective transition between themes and mood. The last piece, which I will not disclose, is a poignant finale.

I managed to see Bigmouth on Tuesday this week. It runs until Sunday February 7, 2016. It’s definitely worth your while.