Saturday, September 16, 2017

Carleton the Mime with Mighty Joe at Elgin Fringe Festival

The art of pantomime may have faded from American culture, but you wouldn't know that from a visit to the Elgin Fringe Festival, where Carleton the Mime, one of America's finest and most experienced, revived a show he has honed for more than forty years in front of audiences all over the world.

Carleton the Mime performs with the music of
Mighty Joe at the Elgin Fringe Festival.

The Elgin Art Showcase was standing (and sitting) room only, with an audience of all ages. Carleton took the stage to the music of his partner Mighty Joe, and strung together a series of sketches covering a broad range — from honoring the "flea circus" tradition, to breaking the mold with gritty scenes of street crime — all in classic silent white face. We never expected to shed a tear, but the piece on fatherhood convinced us that mime is far more powerful than "trapped in a box" or "walking against the wind."

The audience enthusiastically joined in at times, while others intently watched his process of propping, costuming and directing. The interjections, guitar music and sound effects of Mighty Joe gave this act a distinct Chicago feel, and Carleton brought together the creative energy of a twenty-something with the seamless professionalism of a seasoned pro.

If you ever get the chance again, don't miss a show by this man, born with a face that was made for the craft. Sadly, they do not make artists like this anymore.

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