BigMouth’s critical threads weave around Dhaenens’ native Belgium and the USA, highlighting the madness, fury and fear that dog the discourse of the powerful.
Queen’s Theatre, Thursday, February 27 Valentijn Dhaenens stands behind a dimly lit row of microphones, with an illuminated chalkboard floating above his head. A list of names and dates is spread across the board: Socrates 399 BC, Malcolm X 1964, Nicola Sacco 1927, M Ali 1974, Ann Coulter 2001. With 2500 years to play with, Dhaenens strikes the chord of war in this mighty monologue of monologues. BigMouth’s critical threads weave around Dhaenens’ native Belgium and the USA, highlighting the madness, fury and fear that dog the discourse of the powerful. He juxtaposes enemies and allies, spitting with passion or faltering over humiliating stumbles. A gentle rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit has a striking effect ahead of a George W Bush highlights reel. The loops of sound – rolling from a vocal gunshot into an eerie, illuminating twist of West Side Story’s America – layered with famed speech snippets are the most impressive. You’ll hear that gunshot, Patrice Lumumba’s cry of victory, Osama Bin Laden’s measured speech, General Patton’s violent ramblings and more, for a long time after Dhaenens takes his leave. Stark and astounding. ****1/2 BigMouth continues at Queen’s Theatre until Mon Mar 3. *This review also appears on Rip It Up