I didn’t know what to expect walking into Chalk. A mime entered and then delighted the audience as he drew an entire world (well, house) from chalk. This show is carefully put together, and often as ingenious as it is humorous and touching.
Chalk is a simple, generous and touching show for everyone.
While the mime (Alex Curtis) uses tricks throughout the show that are more well known, it’s the little details that make Chalk magical right from the outset. He blows the smoke from his cigarette and it turns into chalk dust. Ingenious use is made of the stage, with Curtis creating various household items and using them in a functional way. There is a kind of childish pleasure watching it happen. The stage and its music are used to their full potential in this way. Chalk is very successful when it gives little hints that the imagined world might be real.
That said, all of this cleverness wouldn’t do any good if the clown was not relatable. Thankfully Curtis was made for this kind of role. He is able to pull off complex choreography and the believable misdirection with ease. He also has a lovable impishness that makes his every move compulsive. It’s a rare sort of talent. He’s not only a good comic, but has a kind of infectious joy that makes the ‘plot’ heartwarming.
The chalk world does become a little less believable when the mime tries to animate things that are more complex or less stationary. When he drew a dog, for instance, it was a stretch of the imagination to believe it was a real dog. But it’s not enough to trouble the show. There were still children next to me who were spellbound.
The jokes (for example, running into an invisible wall) in Chalk should be well known to the audience, but this doesn’t stop them from being worthwhile. The real worth of Chalk is the generosity behind it. It’s a gentle production determined to show the audience the joy that can happen when everyone imagines and believes the same thing is real.