Tuesday, 4 August 2009
PERFORMANCE REVIEW: Flavio, Medium de los Muertos
Flavio, Medium de los Muertos
Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Kennington Lane
I see dead people. Well not really, but there were a number of lifeless faces on Friday night, as Mike Okarma fails to crack a smile at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.
Okarma makes his Camden Fringe debut with the bizarre one-man show Flavio, Medium de los Muertos, in which he parades a succession of obscure characters before an increasingly bemused audience. The premise - a comedy séance - is a thinly-disguised vehicle for Okarma to showcase his impressionist talent. Throughout the evening he is ‘inhabited’ by a range of clichés, from the Jewish grandmother distressed by her godson’s homosexuality, to Tapioca, the tough-talking Detroit gospel singer. Unfortunately, despite his gift for accents and character observation, Okarma’s creations lack any kind of charisma, and he has to resort to a Chippendales stripping routine in order to get a cheap laugh.
Although Flavio is brimming with bravado, Okarma himself is an uncomfortable figure on the stage. He appears to lack confidence, grasping for lines and displaying an awkward desperation when interacting with the audience. The modest crowd at the RVT are friendly and encouraging, trying hard to find something to laugh at, but they are left disappointed as Okarma struts and squawks his way through yet another tired American stereotype.
Possibly the most peculiar part of Flavio is Okarma’s decision to insert motivational messages into each of his characters’ rambling stories. As the audience are urged to “live their lives to the full, each and every day”, the whole evening begins to feel like an extended ‘Final Thought’ from Jerry Springer. It’s difficult to tell whether these sugary sentiments are supposed to be the punchline in this strange creation, but if so, they fail to strike a chord with this reviewer.
Amy Jane Clewes
Flavio, Medium de los Muertos will run as part of the Camden Fringe Festival until 7th August