Ennio Marchetto: The Living Paper Cartoon

Pleasance Courtyard

From 30 July 2014 to 15 August 2014

Rating: ***

Review by David Chadderton

I remember seeing short clips of Ennio Marchetto's act years ago on TV and finding it fascinating, so when I saw his name in the Fringe programme I was interested in seeing whether this clever, fast-moving act still worked for me, and whether it could be sustained over an hour.

This is straight from the old tradition of the novelty act, where someone with a quirky, unique act would keep performing it for years, perhaps with a few updates. TV spoiled many of these performers as one appearance would give the whole act away at once, but not so with Marchetto.

Marchetto takes the stage dressed in a black body stocking miming to a wide variety of backing music, from Bizet and Bach to Bieber and Bowie. For each number, he fixes to his body and head painted paper cutouts of clothes, body and hair to turn himself into, as the show's title states, a living paper cartoon of each celebrity.

This in itself is pretty clever and quite funny, but there's more to it than this. Many of the celebrities, with the turn of a piece of paper or a few folds plus a change of music, will turn into someone quite different, often with a humorous linking theme. Some bits of the paper costume tear off to become cartoon props in the wordless sketches.

So with a bit of origami, Eminem singing The Real Slim Shady becomes Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive, Kylie becomes The Singing Nun, James Bond turns into Adele and Captain Spock becomes David Bowie with his Aladdin Sane lightning bolt singing Major Tom.

The nature of the act means that it is a lot of very short sequences, which start to look a little samey after a while, so there's a lull in the middle. However he picks it up towards the end with some slightly more extended sequences.

There is a whole Lady Gaga sequence with her various looks, ending in a meat dress which starts to attract buzzing flies. Kate Bush from the Wuthering Heights era becomes possessed with the help of the Tubular Bells music from The Exorcist. Celine Dion turns into the Titanic and the couple from the film appear as paper cutouts.

It's all very clever and there are many laughs in the hour-long performance. The main thought I had while watching it was how much work was involved in keeping the show going every night, as even the costumes that aren't torn or discarded wouldn't last for a whole Edinburgh run—everything is just made of paper.

Marchetto is a clever performer with a unique act that is great to see once, but, despite updating, it isn't going to be something you will need to revisit frequently.