Children’s entertainer Jango Starr is a total clown, but that’s certainly not meant as a criticism; sans white-face, he instead relies on a pair of trousers just sufficiently baggy to be noticeable, a Chaplin-styled rolling gait, and an emotive face which slips between happy and sad without ever entirely losing the echo of the other. Still, he gets his laughs nonetheless—often from nothing more than the way he puts on a shoe.
For One Man Shoe, Starr has some great support, most obviously from director Gerry Mulgrew and his team
That’s before, of course, we discover that Starr’s also a master at juggling, magic tricks, and puppetry, all of which are used to great dramatic effect in this one man show. Starr initially appears as a somewhat shabby caretaker whose job is to make sure that, backstage, everything is ready for the next performance by the mysterious magician Fantastico. It’s clear, though, that there’s been some kind of dressing room party—it’s only much later that we realise the star attraction has left for a new life in Spain, leaving it to Starr to fill his top hat and tails.
That Starr successfully takes on the role of the missing magician is all the more dramatically effective thanks to the emotional groundwork for this turn of events being established in a mildly disturbing (at least for the grown-ups, if not young children) dream sequence, during which the magician’s costume takes on a life of its own, dancing with Starr around the stage. It’s so simply and effectively performed; also, it’s deliberately unlike the earlier clumsy Starr, for whom life in general appears to be an unending struggle against inanimate objects such as hats, coat stands or his own shoes.
For One Man Shoe, Starr has some great support, most obviously from director Gerry Mulgrew and his team: choreographer Janis Claxton, sound designer Philip Pinsky, and set designer Becky Minto. As a result, Starr is supported with a suitably effective, and yet thankfully non-distracting setting in which he is able to share his talents with an increasingly appreciative audience. Just be ready for the occasional discarded items which may be thrown into the audience!