Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp DC Review
The Seven Ages of Mime
By Rich See
Created and performed by Mark Jaster, the piece examines the history of miming from its birth in Roman pantomime to its prominence in silent films with Charlie Chaplin to its present day incarnation in performers like Marcel Marceau or former TV variety stars Shields and Yarnell.
Assisted by Sabrina Mandell, Mr. Jaster opens the show as a Roman story teller who is suddenly stricken with laryngitis just as he is about to begin his ode Daphne and Apollo. Through the quick thinking of his assistant (Ms. Mandell) the show goes on with the storyteller performing the graceful, dance-like movements and the assistant taking on the speaking role. Whether or not this is actually how pantomime began is anyone's guess, but it makes for cute comedy and Mr. Jaster's role as the egotistical Roman star is that much funnier when he discovers he is left alone on stage with no vocal power to carry him through the moment.
We move onward to pantomime's part in the Italian theatre form of commedia dell'arte (also known as "play of professional artists" or "comedy of humors"). This portion of the show may seem dated to some as the heavy Italian accents and slapstick vaudeville humor tread the ground of stereotypes. However, the kids in the audience loved it and Mr. Jaster's ability as an acrobat is quite inspiring.
Next it's to France and the Théãtre des Funambules and a bow to Jean-Gaspard Deburau who created the image of "Pierrot and the Statue." With the signature white smock and flowing pantaloons, Mr. Jaster and Ms. Mandell create a touching moonlit romance between marble statue and lonely passerby.
"The Mirror" takes us back to the Marx Brothers and a number of similar scenarios as Mr. Jaster and Ms. Mandell do a funny double take, dressed in top hat and tails. This leads to a Chaplinesque "the Tramp Sings" with Mr. Jaster's insecure and worried Tramp entertaining the masses at a music hall.
The evening is wrapped up with a funny, one-man battle between David and Goliath and then a nod to the "The Post-Modern Clowns" like Mr. Marceau. Seven Ages is wonderfully suited for children ages 8 and up, the young at heart and anyone who loves a good mime.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide