Ramesh Mayyappan / Tron Theatre / Theatreworks
Ramesh Mayyappan’s persona in Off-Kilter is a punctilious man who goes off to work each day with assiduously polished shoes and a sharpened pencil. The badge that hangs around his neck is precious; it is his identity. But then one day something seems to be off-kilter; even his dozen alarm clocks are going beserk and just as he’s about to leave for work a letter arrives and his entire world goes askew… even the furniture.
Off-Kilter holds up an aburdist mirror to a reality we all recognise. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but also thought-provoking. The character’s obsessive attention to the minutiae of daily life might be quirky, but his predicament throws light on some of our own preoccupations. We can all see some of his character traits in ourselves, thrown into sharper relief by gentle mockery, but rendered endearing by his body language.
The mime is very good, the character is nicely underplayed, the conjuring tricks are not played for effect, but integrated, so that it is cartoonish, yet very real too.
There is something sad about this character: his mundane life, his isolation, his preoccupation with time, his identity borrowed from the workplace, and how quickly all that can unravel.
But he’s equally an aimiable character, well-meaning, well-groomed, performing his morning work-out in his dressing gown, procrastinating comically when faced with the envelope he wants to open but doesn’t dare, trying and failing to write a reply, an angry response, a plea, a rational argument, you can see him deliberating.
The inability to act, outside his meticulous daily routine, the doubts and the need for familiar assurances are all traits with which we can identify.
Off-Kilter is a modest, well-paced and finely executed piece of physical theatre and a dark comedy that hinges on the absurdities of modern existance. The quality of the mime, the tricks, the imaginative scope make it well worth seeing.