Written and performed by Paggy Gacheva, Stimmicanto (a blend of the words stimming and encanto) is a deep dive into what being autistic feels like and taking the audience along for the journey. Gacheva delivers a charming and effortless performance, and manages to keep the audience engaged and amused throughout. The humour is the heart of the show, ranging from niche topics, British humour, physical comedy and clever word play. Filled to the brim with gags, observations and jokes, it's an hour of non-stop laughter.
Gacheva uses the show to not only educate audiences about autism, but to give the audience the experience of 'being' autistic. With the lighting and sound effects glitching and switching mid speech, with levels of intensity varying infrequently, Stimmicanto is an intelligent and thoughtfully produced piece. Both poking fun at and revelling at having autism, Gacheva ensures that Stimmicanto serves as a reminder that autism can be used to thrive with. Discussing specific terminology and their effects, and exploring what the spectrum means, you'll leave the show more informed.
The use of presentation works extremely well and helps visualise and break the continual fast paced monologue. With a few minutes dedicated to a number of photos of actor Paul Rudd (and his emotive eyes), it further denotes the "hyperfixations" of Paggy. There's another witty part using presentation wherein Paggy mocks street signs, forever altering the way certain London streets and stations appear. However due to the nature of the theatre, the presentation may not be clearly visible to all audience members. The show includes moment of gentle audience participation in the game show section. Hilariously hosted by Paintbrush Paggy, audience members are able to read out exaggerated situations and watch Paggy recite rather witty responses. There are many elements of improvisation here that Paggy not only navigates through, but excels in.
Stimmicanto jumps from topic to topic, and abruptly brings in new concepts, yet in the larger picture, this seems natural. Gacheva teases the audience, with acute awareness of the meta theatricality and casually leaves the room for extended periods of time and comments on the lack of an interval. These moments are scattered and few, yet remind me of a "Mr. Bean" type sense of humour. The show dips slightly at the end, lapsing into spouting various statistics at us, which would have been more effective had they been more spread out. However in context of showing us how autism works, it may just have been a form of information dumping.
Stimmicanto is a hilarious, witty and eye opening piece about autism. With the friendly and funny Gacheva leading the production, you won't want it to end as soon as it does. With memorable metaphors, striking quotes and hilarious catch phrases, the show will have you smiling long after you leave. Stimmicanto is currently playing at the Baron's Court Theatre until the 4th of February. More information and tickets are available at this link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by @arthur_documentary and James Ennis