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The eyes have it: performer communicates without words

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SILENT THEATRE: If theatre were movies, then Daniel Oldaker would be straight out of the silent-movie era.

In Dandyman, Oldaker performs physical comedy: his show relies only on his movements and expressions, with no lines to flesh out the story. Unlike silent movies, he can't hold up cards of dialogue for the audience to read.

"I was inspired by people like Jacques Tati to Jerry Lewis to perhaps even Jim Carrey," Oldaker says.

Oldaker, who is originally from Melbourne, Australia, says having a show with no verbal dialogue helps him tour the world and go to countries where he might not be able to perform otherwise.

"You try and pick up a little bit of language. And they obviously know if you're from Australia; (the audience) come up after the show and speak to you in broken English," he says.

That ability to cross language barriers is why Oldaker says he enjoys doing what he do.

"It's just universal. Everyone can enjoy it, from kids to grandparents."


NOT-SO-SILENT THEATRE: If theatre were movies, Oldaker's occasional partner, Rani Huszar, would be about 20 years ahead of him, firmly in the years of the talkies of the 1930s.

Huszar performs what she calls a variety act: La Charade is a series of skits loosely connected with each other. These could be burlesque, magic or even circus acts.

"It's all just comedy-based, with audience participation. Some of it is sort of set in place, and then some of it is quite random," she says.

During every show, Huszar says, she pulls out a different act from her repertoire to perform, which means no two shows are the same.

"It keeps me really alive, and in the moment," she says.

Though she and Oldaker have separate shows, she said they complement each other in a lot of ways.

"He's a quirky, beautiful clown, and then I'm this crazy showgirl nutjob," she said.

Like Oldaker, Huszar has toured around the world, performing in countries from Europe to North America. But unlike Oldaker, the language barrier has sometimes been a problem. Usually she would have an interpreter, but sometimes that didn't work.

"I did hit Italy once and I didn't get time to get a proper interpreter. So I did Google interpreting, and I got there and started saying things, and they're all staring at me," she says.

"I told them in Italian that I got this off Google, and they cracked up. So they started yelling out everything for me to say in the show. I have no idea what I was saying," she says.


ATTENDANCE UPDATE: Ticketed attendance through the first weekend is better than last year's record pace.

After five days, 39,325 people have seen indoor shows, compared with 39,079 over the same period in 2012. The main reason was the huge turnout Saturday, when ticket sales totalled 10,205, the first time that the 10,000 barrier has been surpassed. Sunday attendance was 9,103.

There have been 59 sellouts so far and 300 people take the free Fringe Flyer shuttle bus every night, festival organizers said Monday.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2013 C5

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