The pantomimist from Maine, Tony Montanaro, has a face with those big, distinctive features whose slightest move can change his mood, his age, his very character. His spacing of motions, timing of steps, and levels of energy have the clarity one can expect of a performer in the classic French mime tradition who has studied with Decroux and Marceau. Yet, he's also a clown, a dancer and a storyteller who likes to step down from the stage and involve the audience in his make-believe games.
Last night, at Tawes Theater on the University of Maryland campus at College Park, Montanaro showed all his skills and chatted too. He's at his best, though, when he mimes and when the action is as simple as pulling an invisible rope, touching an imaginary wall, pretending to fly. Where the pace become hectic or the plot complex, when he and his two colleagues -- the energetic Shelley Wallace and the spectacularly tall Doug Berky -- act at once or interact, their skits go slightly out of focus.
The most intriguing of Montanaro's ambitious efforts was the process of "putting on" a character, becoming a monkey or a rooster. This had the fascination of watching trasformations on film. The overall program had no particular order, which made it seem longer than it was.