Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook
(Boston, MA) Funny is a funny thing. You can be mean and be funny. You can shock and be funny. You can do knock-knock jokes and be funny, at least to a five-year old. Or you can just be super-talented, a bit caustic and kind of weird and be funny. Tomáš Kubínek has chosen the last option to deliver a memorable and nicely brief one-man show for ArtsEmerson at the Paramount Theatre.
Some people have to work at catching your attention, but attention-grabbing is a skill that master performers have in their pores. From the moment Kubínek grumbles himself onstage, the audience is transfixed. It’s easy to see why. Picture someone who combines the deadly-seriousness of Anthony Hopkins a la Silence of the Lambs, the bewildered wildness of Christopher Lloyd a la Taxi and the flexibility of Gumby. That’s your host for the evening. Kubínek performs a mixture of comedy, slight-of-hand and eye-popping acrobatics that leaves you sometimes laughing, sometimes cheering, sometimes wincing, and sometimes laughing, cheering and wincing.
If there is a complaint to this show, and there isn’t one that should stop you from going to it, it’s that Kubínek sometimes can’t decide what he wants the show to be, and this switching of gears can slow the show down. For the first ten minutes, it appears to be mainly mime, a form of which Kubínek shows a master. His grumbling entrance and losing fight with a candle reminds one of Mr. Bean’s best moments. But then then spell is broken when he speaks, and here Kubínek’s show picks an old-world-y Prairie Home Companion vibe. The second half of the show is dominated by audience participation and patter, with some stupid human tricks thrown in, all very good, but a bit head-scratching at the same time.
These shifts can verge on annoying, perhaps perversely because Kubínek is so good at each form that it would be nice to see him settle into one for a whole show. But his stage presence and timing keep things humming along nicely, making for an enjoyable evening. While Kubínek constructed a choppy show, he has also given every moment of it wonderful texture and nuance, from each loose-limbed movement onstage down to the perfect timeless pattern selected for his wonderful carpetbag of tricks. With his talent and dedication to craft, Kubínek makes even the wrong moves seem right, much to the audience’s delight