In the 1970s, Christopher Vened was a Baryshnikov-like virtuoso with Henryk Tomaszewski's famed Wroclaw Pantomime Theatre. Tomaszewski had developed mime into a stunning form of full-scale, multicharacter physical theater that was able to slyly circumvent Cold War–era censorship in nonverbal critiques of Poland's Communist regime.
In Human Identity, Vened's solo investigation into the question of what it means to be human, the 62-year-old performer demonstrates little of his former dexterity, discipline or visual invention. Instead, he delivers a halting hybrid performance that, for lack of a better word, might be called “talking mime.”
An interweaving of whimsy, slapstick and some occasionally overfamiliar Marcel Marceau-esque clowning tropes with Discovery Channel–grade anthropological speculation, the 90-minute show is most poignant when Vened touches on his own middle-aged mortality and most tantalizing when it skirts but doesn't quite penetrate the more philosophically compelling conundrum of subjectivity — the nature of “I” in the assertion “I am my own self.”
Nevertheless, the self-described “work in progress” still has miles to go — both in staging polish and in offering a more deeply personal answer to the show's most intriguing question of identity: Who is Christopher Vened?
HUMAN IDENTITY | By Christopher Vened | The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd. | Through Feb. 9 | (323) 960-5773, bit.ly/laweeklyhuman
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