FringeTastic: Words Don't Work

By Dalia Wolfson12th Grade, Hunter College High School Mimes have gotten a bit of a bad rap in the past – they suffer from associations with cheap party entertainment and the build-a-box trick. However, Broken Box Mime Theater’s Words Don’t Work, proves that the art of the mime can be a beautiful and true one. Words Don’t Work is representative of the Fringe Festival because its ‘low budget’ feel is natural; there’s no need for a smoke machine, excessive props or elaborate sets – just eight bodies, lights and sounds to build any story. In a little more than an hour, the eight mimes act out 13 tales, slipping on and removing characters like white gloves. The playlets range from family relationships to quaint park scenes to medieval epics, and so the repertoire here is diverse and rich; the actors are able to recreate castles, kitchens and clunking garbage trucks with startling clarity. The mimes are skilled at shaping emotion with their hands, giving material meaning to a thought created in thin air. Throughout every scene, the audience follows the plot, and the glorious arc of human feeling is relevant and present. Interestingly enough, the scenes are not silent – words may not work, but music plays a role almost like in a silent movie, narrating the mood and rhythm of the acting. Words Don’t Work is incredible because the actors manage to mime abstract ideas - but for a New Yorker the show is intensely personal because it also tells the stories of the city. Interspersed between the longer narratives are clips from daily life in the streets and shadows of New York. We follow the mimes from “Uptown 3” to “Downtown 5” to “Crosstown L”, and all the while we meet the well-known faces of our neighbors: the coddling mother with a baby carriage, the indifferent hipster with colorful headphones and the Columbia student. Ultimately, the troupe manages to give us a sense of familiarity that breaks miming out of the box. *PLOG PICK TICKETS