Review: Stimmicanto

The endearingly eccentric Paggy Gacheva delivers an hour of joyful comedy, about the inner workings of her autistic mind.

Review: Stimmicanto

Stimmicanto - a portmanteau of ‘stimming’ and ‘encanto’ - is a word devised by comedian Paggy Gacheva. Its meaning is simple, but clever: stimming refers to repetitive behaviour that is associated with autism, combined with the Spanish word for joy. 

And joy is the perfect word to link with Gacheva. Dressed in a Lucy and Yak boilersuit and shiny Dr. Martens boots, she radiates a playful energy. Her stage presence is infectious, and her energetic style of performing brings a smile to my face.

An “autistic surrealist”, Gacheva guides the audience on a journey across the inner workings of her mind. The set itself reflects this; it’s intimately small, black like Gacheva’s outfit, with a frame of fairy lights twinkling around her. You get the feeling that you’ve been transported to an eccentric, far-away land.  And she controls the stage with full confidence, prancing around the venue, telling the audience to move as close as possible. For such a friendly-looking person, Gacheva's voice is booming. Her energy is amusingly hurried; she speaks so quickly that she occasionally starts a new sentence before the current one has finished. But I find it all adds to her unique charm.

The mind of Gacheva’s seems endearingly fascinating. Her thoughts and feelings unravel as the show continues, as she guides the audience deeper into her headspace. At one point, she presents her hyperfixations on a laptop. These include a Google Slides presentation containing pictures of Paul Rudd and her “dangerously plain hobbies” like editing photos of street signs so they form rude words. Gacheva likes to infodump (give excessive amounts of information about her interests), and figures that the opposite of infodump must be infoconstipation, a word I hope never catches on. 

Gacheva states that Stimmicanto is very openly a “show about autism”. She expresses a commendable amount of vulnerability throughout its one hour duration, using her surrealist wit to describe her symptoms and how she got diagnosed. I think neurotypical and neurodiverse people alike will enjoy the way Gacheva so easily explains what life is like for her. She thinks “autism is like brown sauce”, because when you ponder and think very deeply about it, what actually consists of brown sauce? Being autistic myself, I interpret that to mean that no one autistic person is the same, and the label includes a diverse range of symptoms. 

Not only that, but as a reviewer, I find it reassuring that it’s becoming more acceptable to centre comedy around such things. Representation always matters, and it’s a relief to see someone talk about their experience in a way that’s so relatable.


Mimi Waters

Mimi Waters Voice Reviewer

I'm a budding writer who loves to review all sorts of wonderful things that happen in the heart of Brighton. With a deep interest in art and literature, I'm constantly seeking inspiration for new creative projects.

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