At the Experimental Theatre last weekend
Saturday morning I would have told you to dash over to the Loeb Experimental Theatre, at least half an hour before show time, to be sure of a seat. But now I can only tell you what you missed. Mime I was an entertaining, if sometimes awkward, hour of pantomime, certainly not exceptional in the context of traditional mime, but a remarkably brave performance by a Harvard junior.
Lorenzo Weisman cleverly varies his eight short skits, first presenting a grotesquely humorous one, then a witty one. Pantomine is usually associated in the United States with Marcel Marceau, and though Weisman wears the painted white face, the oversize bell-bottom trousers, and the ballet slippers of the French mime, he frequently dons the manner of The Little Tramp.
His first skit, "Hungry in the Park," begins in the Chaplin vein, a hungry loafer trying to con a meal off passersby. When his begging proves unsuccessful, the tramp discovers how surprisingly delicious his fingernail tastes, and then eagerly dines on the fingers of his left hand. But before desert, the men in the white coats drag the tramp away, which is not funny at all.
In fact, the best of Mime I is anything but funny. Weisman's adaptation of Marceau's skit "The Cage" is a lovingly prepared allegory on the prisoner of modern society, trapped by the invisible shield of Gardol. Weisman's flappy figure strolls out in a relaxed gait and walks right into a contracting glass cage. He escapes, by breaking the wall, but ignorantly stumbles back into the trap, and to destruction.
Weisman's technique in this skit, as in all of them, is clear and careful. His hands speak in economical, controlled movements, suggesting surprise as they flatten on the cage walls and horror as they push against them. His broad mouth and wide eyes go from smile to shock with none of the obvious self-satisfaction in a welldone trick. Though some of his comic material is childish and inane, Weisman's actions provoke our willing laughter, especially when he's playing in home ground, being the snoring student in lecture or the pretentious flamenco guitarist.
So now that you know what you've missed, don't skip Mime II, which I hope will come soon. In this university too intent on speaking and writing, Weisman's next Mime should provide eloquent silence.