As soon as one enters the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood (appropriately named, replete with comfy sofas and lounge chairs in both lobby and theatre), all that one sees is a completely bare stage, with only a stool, so you know you're in for a performance with seemingly barebones. Christopher Vened is a one man dynamo in his brilliant show, called "Human Identity." He is a veteran actor, mime and author who started in the Wroclaw Pantomime Theatre in Poland, and in 1981 defected to the West, while on tour in West Germany, and finally settling in the U.S. He considers himself an international performer, and has written a book: "Character: An Actor's Workbook for Character Development." In his one man show, a very long monologue, Chris explores all that it means by "human identity," in all its various modes.
His first statement is very telling: "I talk instead of being a mime." Contrary to most of his acting background: "I've been on this earth for 61 years trying to figure out the secret of creation on my own-- and when I look in the mirror, I'm either impressed or depressed." No pun intended, first reflections and impressions are very important... "and it takes a while to get used to what I'm seeing..."
He is extremely analytical of his own persona, as well as a keen observer of others around him. Some of his most memorable scenes include exploring the difference between men and women, which he explores brilliantly, through their walk, talk, and body language. He is also an astute observer of the most mundane of behaviors- the animal kingdom. One of his show's major themes is how we humans are different than animals, specifically the apes. We are developed from them... and the question is "have we really developed or are still apes?" At one point, he shares how apes have the ability to use tools, but then they enter the whole human conundrum: "are tools truly useful, or are they self-destructive?"
He wishes for his audience to live vicariously through his observations-- to see this planet in which we live- to feel it, to infuse it- into our body and soul-- to deeply understand the world around us-- and to question our own comfort zone.
In the end, Vened basically theorizes: "if I could figure it all out, then I am as a God...O how glorious..." He then arches his body up to heaven, as it were. A true master of his own body, a genius of physical expression and articulation, Christopher Vened, in this one man masterpiece, displays exquisite human agility.
Lounge Theatre, through February 9th
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.