Mute magician reveals his secrets in Bread & Circus festival performance

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Gamarjobat is showing as part of the Bread & Circus festival with shows every evening until February 8.

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Gamarjobat is showing as part of the Bread & Circus festival with shows every evening until February 8.

A magician never reveals his secrets. Well, not in so many words anyway.

Silent performer Gamarjobat filled his debut solo Bread & Circus show with a series of quick-fire skits in a wordless flurry, first cutting off his hand, then pulling a bird from a silk sheet and swallowing a sword.

After each trick, he slyly mimes to the audience how it was done, much to the delight of some of the younger members in the crowd and those bamboozled by his sleight of hand. Spoiler alert: no limbs were lost during the performance.

Bread & Circus festival festival director Scott Maidment outside The Spiegeltent, where Gamarjobat performs.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF

Bread & Circus festival festival director Scott Maidment outside The Spiegeltent, where Gamarjobat performs.

Japanese comedian Hiro-Pon is the sole remaining member of comedy duo Gamarjobat, oddly named after the Georgian word for ‘hello’. He split from his performance partner and matching mohawk, suit and dark glasses wearing sidekick Ketch last year after 20 years bringing laughter to the stage together.

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When an entertainment ensemble parts ways, it can launch a whole new path for successful solo careers – or result in disaster.

Gamarjobat used to be a two-man show, with Ketch and Hiro-Pon known for their matching looks and colourful mohawks.

GETTY

Gamarjobat used to be a two-man show, with Ketch and Hiro-Pon known for their matching looks and colourful mohawks.

For Hiro-Pon, he has retained the fun-loving goofy magic tricks and classic pantomiming Gamarjobat is best-known for, and manages to fill the gaps left by Ketch by inviting audience members to partake in the show for the double act skits.

The eagerness of the crowd to step on stage is a testament to Hiro-Pon’s likeable persona, and he’s able to direct participants’ every move with a series of timely grunts and artful mime.

The hour-long act, a staple of Christchurch’s World Buskers Festival, and now Bread & Circus, feels refreshingly offhand, as though each show could be Hiro-Pon’s first and even the veteran performer himself isn’t sure what’s coming next. He grabs every chance to perform off the cuff, with clearly unscripted gags dropped throughout amongst the set.

In a style not unlike a real-life cartoon, the show is ideal for older children. It’s pared back to basics, relying solely on Hiro-Pon’s skill to entertain the crowd with no distraction from high-tech lighting displays or jazzy costumes, but part of the joy is in its simplicity. The last show is on February 8.

Hiro-Pon is a subtle reminder that language is certainly not crucial in the world of communication.

Humour, generally, is very subjective, and an art that rarely transcends age and language barriers as successfully as Gamarjobat. Even when everyone’s speaking the same dialect, cultural difference can have a huge impact on how jokes are received, and Hiro-Pon manages to bridge those divides without uttering a single word.

 


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