SOUTHBANK CENTRE: Ennio Marchetto is a dynamo of a man, and in full flight in his one man show, you can practically see the sparks flying off him.
Christmas approaches at the Southbank Centre, London, and what better way to herald in the festive season than to sit in the Purcell Room and watch The Living Paper Cartoon – Ennio Marchetto.
Southbank Centre boasts a wide-ranging programme: classical & world music; rock & pop; jazz; dance; literature and the visual arts, attracting audiences from far and wide in this “most diverse” UK venue. Audiences from far and wide? Oh yes, all the way from Zurich, actually… And a wide-ranging programme – stop right there! You could not get more wide-ranging than Ennio Marchetto.
Ennio Marchetto is a dynamo of a man, and in full flight in his one man show, you can practically see the sparks flying off him. His quick-change-hold-that-paper-up-is-that-who-I-think-it’s-gonna-be-you-must-be-joking (and he is, let me assure you) routines are awesome. One barely has time to breathe. And that is just the audience!
The setting was dark beyond the cyclamen and red lights on front stage: the last members of the audience had finally seated themselves; it was a full house, the show could begin... and what a show it was!
The music started and we had no idea what to expect; certainly not a singing Mona Lisa stuck in a frame! Only Ennio's expressive face and hands were seen as he ‘sang’. Suddenly, before our very eyes he transformed into Marilyn Monroe with her unmistakable blonde hair and famous white chiffon dress, singing I want to be loved by you and yes Marilyn/Ennio, the audience certainly loved you, you, and nobody else but you.
After Marilyn quickly side-stepped behind the dark curtain, it was not 10 seconds before the riveting music of Michael Jackson blasted out and Ennio danced across the stage, moving like Jacko himself, keeping the legend alive. Whitney Houston belting out her song and Ennio showing no mercy with this lady - the crowd ate it up, and when, with lightening hand movements, Ennio unfolded Whitney into the strutting phenomenon of Tina Turner, well, the audience went wild.
Ennio portrays around 50 best-loved celebrities during a one hour show, changing in front of the audience and without any assistance. He is ‘busier than a one-armed man in an origami contest…..’ During his performance, and after about 15 minutes into the show, I could not keep count anymore! Who wants to keep count anyway; one just had to sit back and enjoy the rollercoaster ride that is Ennio Marchetto.
So much more to come, it seemed never ending…hang on, let me get a breath and rest my palms from clapping, each double celebrity became more complicated with a frenzy of folding, tucking and tearing to transform into yet another amazing likeness of another famous singer.
Want to see Doris Day singing Que sera, sera and then, with a blink of an eye, transform into Dolly Parton on a horse!!?? How much clapping can one take? Suddenly there was an Egyptian sarcophagus on the stage, morphing into an Egyptian mummy to the tune of Cher's Do you believe in Life after Love? There she was: Cher looking gorgeous and young. The comparison between the bandage wrapped mummy and Cher was not lost on the audience....wicked.....and became even more wicked when she transformed in C-3P0 and the Star Wars theme flowed over our heads.
The transformations were becoming more and more complicated, needing more and more paper, and then came my particular favourite, a Gospel choir made up of 5 singers, with Ennio in the middle singing Oh Happy Days.
Oh happy days indeed to witness, first hand, Ennio's immense creativity and his adaptability to different cultures: no wonder he has such a huge following and a massive international fan base.
The 60 minute, non-stop, electrifying performance finally came to a finale. The rollercoaster ride had ended and the audience filed out, dazed and blinking into the light – wow, reality again, that’s gotta hurt.
Here is a bit of post-show history on Ennio Marchetto: Born in Venice, February 1960, his accolades seem to be as diverse as his characters;
1988: Zanzara d'Oro, Best New Comedian category, Bologna
1994: nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment
1995: Best Show, Cannes Performance d'Acteur
1996: FAD Sebastià Gasch Award, Barcelona
1999: nominated for Drama Desk Award for a Unique Theatrical Experience, New York
1999: Back Stage West Garland Award, Best Costume Design category, Los Angeles
2008: nominated for the IRNE Award, Best solo performance at a large theatre category, Boston
Ennio Marchetto: Living Paper Cartoon
Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London, UK