Venetian-born Ennio (who once made papier maché masks and costumes for the Carnevale) dances and pseudo-sings his way through over an hour of music, switching deftly between 50 of his 140+ total characters tonight as the tracks on his continuous backing CD roll on. Dressed in a black lycra bodysuit beneath the myriad plasticised paper outfits designed and made by his long-time collaborator Sosthen Hennekam (each one durable enough to last 100 uses), it is the ultra-expressiveness of Ennio's garishly made-up face and body that truly bring life and magic to proceedings. Prepare to laugh like a gleeful child (along with your gleeful child, if you brought her/him) as you are presented with social comment, celebrity mudslinging and fun-poking – all through the medium of paper and song. Marvel as a rabbi transforms into Britney Spears; as Madonna undresses down to the VERY bare minimum; as Ravi Shankar’s daughters metamorphose into the Supremes. Not just particular celebrities, but national traditional musical genres are encapsulated within less than a minute of paper manipulation and soundtrack. (All this, and Ennio tailors the characters in each show to his audience depending on the country he's in.) How on earth Ennio remembers which bits go where – and when - whilst simultaneously remembering the lyrics to so much music, spliced and scratched with barely a pause for a breath, is also part of the miracle.
Much more description would to spoil the show - but suffice it to say that multi-award-winning Ennio, whose career kicked off in earnest after he became a cult hit at Edinburgh festival, has performed for the Queen, Elton John and Morrissey, and that he is infrequently in the UK, so if you get the chance to see him anywhere, it's worth doing so. A modest man, happy to chat to his audience in person after shows, Ennio is not a trained dancer or actor, and began making his paper fantasy into reality after daydreaming of a flying paper Marilyn Monroe whilst working in his dad’s coffee machine repair shop. From this little acorn, a mighty and hilarious paper and velcro, Commedia del’Arte-laden tree has grown.