Timepiece | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mime is more than a set of cliches--walking against the wind, pushing against invisible walls, pulling an imaginary rope--made famous by Marcel Marceau, then done to death by his imitators. In the right hands it's a rich, subtle art form combining a dancer's discipline with an actor's desire to create characters and tell stories. I can think of no one better to redeem mime than Daniel Stein. Witty and affable, wearing a simple pair of pants and a loose shirt, this gangly California performer avoids all the shtick--greasepaint, easy pathos--and creates a simple but evocative piece using only his well-tuned body and a few props. A former student of French mime Etienne Decroux who worked in France for 20 years, Stein takes his mime very seriously--but not so seriously that his work becomes pompous or overblown. In one of the more inspired bits in Timepiece, he performs a pas de deux of sorts with a plumb line, draping it over his shoulders like a scarf one minute, allowing the lead weight to slowly pull him downward the next. A beat later he's dancing a silent waltz with it, cradling the lead weight in his hands. He effects a similar magic with two chairs, which he treats as dance partners. Making a simple coiled rope seem both heavy as clay and light as string, Stein makes us understand the illusions mere movement can produce. Saint Patrick Performing Arts Center, Saint Patrick High School, 5900 W. Belmont, 773-282-8844, ext. 277. Friday, April 20, 8 PM. $20.

--Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Andre.

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