We each have our private nightmare – but actor Marius Mensink’s seems more left-field than most. In this 30-minute show, already a cult hit from last year’s Amsterdam Fringe, we’re invited to watch him confront his improbable inner demon. Before our eyes, and over the full space of half an hour, Mensink gradually, inexorably, and apparently painfully turns into… Rolling Stones front-man Mick Jagger.
It’s an alarmingly credible transformation. Mensink doesn’t exactly impersonate Jagger, but instead cherry-picks specific mannerisms from his repertoire – piecing together a performance that’s instantly recognisable, yet still somehow his own. Now, some people won’t see the purpose of this, and I’m not sure I could dissuade them from that entirely rational point of view. But if you’re prepared to embrace the concept, there’s a lot to admire about its dramatic execution – and the ultimate result is far more thought-provoking than it initially seems.
There’s comedy here. Such a grotesque portrayal inevitably verges on parody, with the emergence of the notorious pouting lips a particularly entertaining highlight. But it’s all underpinned by a devilishly dark concept, the idea that Jagger wants to inhabit Mensink’s body while Mensink’s body doesn’t want to let him in. The result is, indeed, a nightmarish existential battle, with a brash Jagger forming a satisfyingly believable personification of evil.
The physical struggle is disturbing enough: Mensink’s naked chest heaves, while his long arms flail and his tense muscles bulge. But it’s the psychological detail that truly makes this show. The wide gaping mouth seems frozen in anguish, while Jagger’s so-familiar strangled notes turn into cries of torment. And then, at the end, Mensink’s left as nightmares always leave us: sweating, exhausted, and hollow.
I must admit though, there’s something at the heart of this work I don’t completely understand. I’d have liked to gain a little insight into why this transformation is taking place – perhaps even to feel some sympathy for the devil that’s fighting to inhabit Mensink’s form. But you can’t always get what you want, can you? Accept it as art, a thing which exists for its own sake, and it’s nothing short of a masterpiece. And no matter what it really means, it’s a performance that will linger long in the mind.