This Week in Theater
Review by Rose Desena
When I received the press release for this, I was intrigued, a mixture of mime and spoken word put together to create a tale about self-exploration into one’s human identity. Christopher Vened, writer and performer, breaks the golden rule of mime…he adds spoken dialog.
The show opens with an introduction and the reasons that he chooses words instead of telling his story in complete mime. His body no longer moves the way it once did, a gift of age he claims. From what I witnessed, Vened, did not seem to have any difficulty moving; he was fluid, graceful, and moved with precision. His classical dance training shined through. The mix makes an interesting performance piece.
The subject that drives him is simple: What is human identity? Who is man and how and why does his body differ from all other species? Well now that I have written it, there is nothing simple about it. We are supposed to have evolved from apes, but we have evolved so much that it is now hard to believe, or accept, we started that way.
In the first half of the production, Vened discusses our need to look at ourselves and compares humans to dogs or cats. When we put Fluffy in front of a mirror, what is his reaction? Does he correct anything about his appearance, of course not? Narcissism is a human trait, but where did it come from? I wanted to shout out “Los Angeles,” but I behaved.
We identify ourselves with our clothes, hairstyles, eye color, or height but does that make up our identity. Vened desperately wants answers. Considering all the differences, including our personal fingerprints, and oh if they could talk, would they tell us who we are?
He goes into comparisons about women and men, which are obvious, such as appearance as well as more specific behavior patterns. He struts across the stage giving us little peeks into a mime character, which I would have liked to see more of.
In the second half of the show, Vened discusses our connection with primates comparing the way we eat, communicate, and how we use or bodies. Honestly, I started drifting off. The 10-minute break between the first and second half was distracting and other than giving him a break, I saw no need for it.
The dialog began to get repetitive. The whole production should have been 50 to 55 minutes without an intermission. Vened’s strong Polish accent also creates a problem, as some of his words are hard to understand, and I think he struggled a bit with the language. That, of course, might correct itself as the show runs.
This is a creative body of work and Christopher Vened is talented, but this needs workshop time. It’s still raw. I think this is a great show for the Fringe. I just did not feel like it was a finished product. It needs cutting and fine-tuning. To my surprise, his parting words to the audience, “Thank you, this is a work in progress”. Guess I was right.
Written and Performed by Christopher Vened
Runs Sundays @ 7pm until February 9th
Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd LA 90038
Plays 411.com/humanidentity or 323 960-5773