It's true that Craig Babcock does a superior imitation of a fly and it's true he does a superior imitation of a frog, but the real measure of his art is his ability to enact both at once -- and, while he is at it, the consumption of one by the other.
Mime is an art form that has yet to take off, a fact reaffirmed by the meager audience that showed up for Babcock's opening at the Source Theatre Tuesday night. But this is clearly an accomplished practitioner. He has astonishing control over his limbs and a delightful way of showing his surprise at the strange forces that (he would have us believe) are constantly assaulting the extremities of his person.
In one routine, this stout but muscular performer seems to be stuck in the middle of a vast hydraulic press that decided to close. So he presses his palms to both approaching walls, desperately trying to hold them back, Perils-of-Pauline-style. But the mighty engine is relentless, and Babcock's hands are forced closer and ever-closer until, at last, they go right past each other. Meanwhile, the Babcock head ponders with astonishment the phenomenon that ought to have pulverized him, and after a moment of transcendental recognition, he seems to step through a time warp into another dimension.
This is a complicated story to tell without words or props -- and perhaps that wasn't the story he meant to tell. Certainly, his act (which continues through Sunday) has its confusing bits of business, and, on the other hand, some scenes that require such laborious visual clarification that they suffer from an energy crises. But it also offers a rich display of craft and imagination.
And when the animals parade onstage at the end -- frog, fly, rooster, seal, chimpanzee, etc. -- it's almost as much fun as a day at the zoo.