Arturo Brachetti: Change @ Garrick Theatre, London

performed by
Arturo Brachetti

directed by
Sean Foley
Arturo Brachetti has taken a very simple concept – that of changing his clothes extremely quickly – and turned it into something special.

Anyone who doubts that his is a strong enough premise for a 100-minute show will soon find themselves forced to reconsider.

Brachetti is widely regarded as the greatest living quick-change artist and Change is a sheer joy to watch.

It begins with a routine that sets the tone for the evening. Brachetti appears on stage wearing a white mask, which he peels off to reveal another, then another and another.
So many are torn off, in fact, that we can only wonder at how he fit them all on his head in the first place.

When he finally reveals his face, it only requires a momentary puff of smoke to take him out of his long coat and scarf and into the uniform of a Grenadier Guard. Then, by the time he has performed two more instantaneous changes, first into Johnny Rotten and then the Queen, we are simply mesmerised by the technical skills involved.

Other routines see him pass through the seasons by capturing in his costumes and sets, paintings by Magritte, Mondrian, Monet and Van Gogh, and covering a host of movies as he plays everyone from Frankenstein and James Bond to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Writer and director Sean Foley has been clever enough to ensure that there is always something to hold our attention beyond the obvious visual elements. We learn something about the history of quick-change, which originated in sixteenth century Italy, as Brachetti performs a classic routine that sees twenty different costumes made from a single hat in two minutes. The show is also presented as a meditation on mortality as Brachetti looks back over his career, and on all the stars that he supposedly knew.

In all this, Brachetti is aided not only by Franois Barbeaus incredible costumes, but also by Guillaume Lords sets, Alain Lorties lighting and Productions Cine-Scenes video work. In one scene, Brachetti encounters a younger version of himself standing within a screen. Obviously, this is pre-recorded footage, but the interaction between the pair is tremendous, before the line between film and reality becomes blurred by his alter ego stepping through the screen to appear live on the stage.

There are a few occasions when the approach feels laboured and the lines slightly clumsy, but it hardly matters. Indeed, if the show ever seems to go off the boil (the finale does feel a little anti-climactic), it is only because the general standard is so high to start with. Ultimately, Change is as likely as any show you see to leave you grinning from ear to ear, especially as you cant help but try to comprehend just how on earth he did it all!

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