Review by Natalie Low
With no set, and just his body, SBADBENG or the art of hitting yourself is exactly just as the title says. Anselmo Luisi is an body percussionist, meaning that his entire performance is based off making beats with his body by, you guessed it, hitting himself.
Coming onstage in a simple black suit, and slicked back hair, he encourages all audience members to move to the front and gather close. He begins with simple claps, and begins to make beats from there. The beats grow as he involves more of his body like his thighs, stomping, and his cheeks. This performance is probably one of the quirkiest shows I’ve gotten to witness here at the Fringe. With very minimal dialogue, with merely just introductions into the next act, you never really know what’s going to happen next.
After about a 5-minute-long beat making, he ends the first act and begins the next one by introducing it as an ode to spring. The beat making evolves by involving more body parts. It is quite extraordinary as he creates sounds from parts of the body you never really think of utilising. In all honesty, it got a little confusing at times considering that there’s no throughline with this show, and you find yourself wondering what is happening at certain points throughout. Luisi is clearly very comfortable and has become very controlled with his body. There was a part of me that felt a little uncomfortable with his ode to Spring considering we’re still quite in a pandemic and using his body parts meant that some sounds he creates are almost synonymous with flu symptoms – I was rather thankful we were in a larger venue with quite a distance between us and Luisi.
There is quite little in the way of lighting changes, with either general washes or spotlights but given the very big stage, Luisi still feels quite small within the venue despite the low lighting.
The performance then moves on to audience participation and Luisi invites (or rather, he strongly encourages) a few audience members to go up on the stage to help him create more beats. I must say he embraces the oddness of his act, and is prepared to laugh at himself, and by involving the audience members, gets them to laugh at themselves and each other as well. The performances get bigger and bigger with each new act, and he eventually involves practically the entire venue. It’s surprising, and unexpected, but it is quite a delight to watch as he fumbles around the space, looking for anything to hit on – the chairs, the audience members, even a piano that was hidden under a cloth.
Luisi is clearly skilled in the art of body percussion, and he puts on an hour long act of strange delight. For those who might not be comfortable with strangers touching you, this might not be the show for you, but for those looking for a good and different time out, you would really enjoy this.