Prior to last night's two mime performances at the Washington Project for the Arts, mime was Bip and Pierrot and carefully wrought movements and silence and perfect timing and . . .
Well, you can scrap all that.
According to Plexus Mime Theatre, mime is masks -- ghostly sculptural masks animal masks, gnome masks, worn on the crown of the head so as to produce an effect of contortion, or four-leggedness or the like. Mime is also something akin to the illusory body entanglements that Pilobolus Dance Theatre creates, only Pilobolus does them more gracefully, more sensuously, more fluidly. Plexus stretches mime to include blabbering in pseudo-Russian while juggling, or letting a large glove or sneaker pull your arm or your leg so off-center that you fall or zigzag offstage. Certainly this three-member troupe has gone beyond conventional mime, but their methods are far from ground.
Solo artist Lana Zabco is quite another story. This young, punked-out, tacky, witty, deranged, deadpan analyst of popular culture leaves traditional mime in the dust. For her, mime is props -- trick-or-treat shopping bags, birthday favors, hot dogs, a plastic baby doll, a blender, Christmas tree lights, a fourth-grader's diary -- and costumes -- a white medical coat, shoes on springs, white lingerie, a flying ace's uniform.
Zabco uses all of these piles of stuff to mock? celebrate? examine? such things as Seven Eleven food stores, motherhood, equations, logic and anything else you can imagine.
P.S. She passes out treats to the audience.
Both "mimes" appear tonight, Plexus at 7:30 and Zabco at 9.