‘Makar’ is a medieval Scots word for poet. ‘Fylm Makker’ suggests an Olde Englishe hand-made scone type of film. It’s not far off as a description. It’s as if Rodin had made ‘The Thinker’ out of old loo rolls and milk bottle tops.
Munnery presents his act from behind the audience, sitting in front of a webcam which then projects his image and a variety of other objects onto three screens. The most important of these are exquisite, and exquisitely funny, little films which are created by inserting movable strips into a basic still picture. The effect is of South Park animated by five-year-olds. It still takes a hell of a lot of work.
The most beautiful thing about this gig is an exhilarating sense of playfulness. Having invented the concept, Munnery seems to be exploring the possibilities on the hoof and delights in what he discovers as he goes along as much as the audience. As he puts it: ‘This is a work in progress – without the progress element. I’m going to do it till you like it.’
This ‘take it or leave it’ attitude is just a pose, of course, but it gives him an immense authority. Between the animations there are some good conventional jokes and a terrific riff on why there have been no gay men in outer space. The one section which really doesn’t work is a 6-minute film about Dalek-like council rubbish bins. Even Munnery seems to know that it’s duff: ‘I know it’s not funny but it took us a year to make, it’s beautifully shot and I don’t want to throw it away.’ Do, Simon, please do. It’s the only weak part of the show.
If this had an Arts Council grant, it would be hailed as an extraordinary multimedia extravaganza (there’s an inventive live sound-track as well). If the little movies were in Polish with subtitles they would be cult animation classics.Simon Munnery is unique, sui generis. Long may his felt tips flourish.