On a sunny Sunday afternoon in beautiful Suffolk at Latitude Festival, what people eating their lunch and perhaps braving their first beer of the day want, is some light-hearted entertainment. And, this is precisely what The Monotone Man provides for them. With larger than life characters, clever staging, and some gentle audience participation, the mime-based show is perfect for the time and place, outside on the green lawns of the East Anglian festival.

The Monotone Man vaguely tells the story of a number of grey and black wearing characters gradually brightening up their lives both literally and metaphorically, by wearing more garish and colourful outfits. As the show develops, each character becomes ever brighter, apart from the titular Monotone Man, who stubbornly remains in his black suit. It is a basic concept, and one that is fully imagined in the short half hour show. But it never tries to be anything more than simple and accessible, and instead focuses on physical theatre and character development to draw the crowd.

The cast should be fully credited for the success here. Each member of The Human Zoo brings something new to the performance, with characters ranging from commuters, to stroppy teenagers, to the phone obsessed. The performance starts with each character walking among the audience with a sign asking a question that sums up who they are. These include questions like “ask me a question?” “talk to me?” and “make me laugh?” It is a successful, and time-effective, way of introducing the show. Of course there are no real words here, but through the physicality of the cast, the tight staging, and excellent use of props, you quickly start to understand each character.

What succeeds with The Monotone Man the most, however, is how The Human Zoo have judged their audience. Playing to a crowd made up of mostly children and their parents, the company have crafted an ideal afternoon show, one which passersby will notice due to the striking look of the costumes, and casual audience members can watch with ease.

So, The Monotone Man is a solid, if not spectacular, way to spend half an hour in the sun. Excellent work from the cast and director mean the audience is never bored. It is this energy and enthusiasm that makes The Human Zoo performance so likable, and makes it stand out at this packed arts festival.

The Human Zoo can be seen performing a new show at Edinburgh Fringe. For more information, click here. Photo by Marc Sethi.