Child -- Scrapbook through the 70's, 80's, and 90's
Child and Barbara Doherty went to Australia during the winter of 1978-79.
George-O sometimes used the name Great Salt Lake Mime Troupe, and so did
Matthew and Barbara, but sometimes they didn't. By 1980, Matthew was touring
out of New York City as a solo act, but he worked more and more in California,
and moved there later by the end of the decade.
*Matthew Child and Barbara Doherty at Kingsbury Hall on the
University of Utah campus, Spring 1978, with the Great Salt
Lake Mime Troupe.
(Right) Matthew Child circa 1979 at an undisclosed location,
possibly New York City.
**Matthew Child as Alby Jennings in Clint Eastwood's
Sudden Impact (1983). Matthew told me all of his scenes
were filmed at night, even the memorable sequence at the Jennings'
home, supposedly taking place during daytime.
(Left) A handbill from the early 1980's, advertising Matthew's
characters like Sugar Ray Raymond, self-defeating boxer;
Histrionic, gesticulating, Arnold Orater; Racey Ken
Duncan; and Larry Regular, turned down by 4867
and one-half women to date -- HE'S UGLY! (Click
to see a larger version)
facsimile of a review from The California Aggie (Davis, California)
-- May 12, 1980
Fills Playhouse With Zany Mime
Friday and Saturday nights Matthew Child mimicked and
characatured everything from college professors to Volkswagens,
forcing laughter out of every audience member during
his performances at the Palms Playhouse.
Child used his dance and mime background
and natural comic ability to exagerrate his observations
to absurdity in everyday life, creating some very absurd
characters and situations.
Most of this show comprised the antics of
3 major characters: A silent-mouthed professor who literally
dives into his work but whose gestures are unintelligable,
a frustrated athlete who wins by cheating, and a woman-hungry
nerd attempting several pick-ups.
Although he created a successful mime troupe
that toured internationally, Child's style was not pure
mime. His movements were exact and revealing like a
mime' and although he did not speak often, he did speak.
His several costumes were simple but effective -- such as
the nerd's greased back hair, huge glasses and horrendous
brown plaid and checked suit.
Perhaps Child's most outstanding asset was his
mouth, capable of creating an entire character on its own
by almost disappearing in the professor, or growing wide and
uncontrolable in the nerd.
The creative spontaniety and physical capability
of this performer constantly amazed the audience. When a man
in the audience blew his nose, the football player ready for
ascrimmage offered him a Kleenex without missing a beat. When
he was a little boy at the raceway discussing cars with the
audience he always had a quick reply. When the nerd wrapped
two chairs around himself, he could still dance to the jazz
He had no trouble getting the audience to participate
in his show,
Child who performed weekend shows of comedy, dance, and mime
at the Palms Playhouse, captured himself in a tight headlock.
they eagerly roared like race cars and answered the questions.
Although the audience compre-hension was widely
varied, there was a character to appeal to everyone. The little
boy athlete who knocked out the baseball catcher, tripped
the quarter-back, and kicked the basketball guard,
a 3-inch American flag after each victory, was familiar to
many parents and frustrated athletes.
The nerd at the concert, convinced he is going
to pick up a beautiful girl, fanta-sizes a love affair between
two chairs, dances with a sex-crazed pimple-coated giant,
and accidentally smashes a girl who is 2 inches tall, comic-ally
distorting the woes of single life.
any lecture-fatigued student, one of the more amusing characterizations
was a professor who was assured ofhis genius and enthusiastically
lectured, but the only things to come out of his mouth were "bubble,
yak, shoepolish, spew, eech," and periodic "questions?".
Maybe Child's father helped him with this one -- he
is chairman of the UCD economics department. Eve Child, Matthew's
mother, did a routine at the beginning, and flashed smiles with
her eyes, and tapped, danced, and sang as adeptly as any talented
Mike Moore's saxophone, piano, and a few noisemakers
provided unexpected music and sound effects for Child's antics.
But it was Matthew Child who transformed the stage into
a fantasy world populated by the oddest people. And although some
of the people may have been ugly or downtrodden, Child's baby smile
and amused eyes always made them lovable, and left the audience
applauding, wishing for more.
***Matthew Child performing The Breeze and I -- digitized
images used by permission of the choreographer.
Child was a founding member of Run For Your Life, It's A Dance
Company, based in San Francisco, performing with them until
Matthew choreographed a series of dances set to the music of Thelonious
Monk, and presented his show in the Bay Area during late 1995.
Earlier that same year, he returned to Amsterdam for a short reunion
with Katie Duck.
Most images from the
collection of Patsy Droubay, with many thanks. *From a video by Michael
Evans, digital color by M.E.***Dance sequence
© Matthew Child 1987
**Portrait of Matthew Child from a partial still image from Sudden Impact
© 1983 Warner Brothers Pictures -- used for biographical
purposes in the context of this essay ONLY.
Rights Reserved for use in this site © Michael R. Evans 2010