Do you remember the neighborhood kid who was such a howl with his funny faces and antics mimicking teachers and adults?
Matt Mitler must have been such a youngster while growing up in the Washington area. Now he is appearing as a mime in his own show at The Source Theater. He still is expending a lot of energy making outlandish faces and gestures to evoke laughter. Unfortunately, The Source Show gives no evidence that Mitler has matured much beyond that buffoonery in the art of mime.
Mitler's solo performances, which will run through Sunday, really are more improvised comedy skits than pure mime. The program notes call for warm-ups and "fooling around with the audience." Then, on alternate nights, Milter performs "Coming Out,"an improvised play on the theme of birth, and "Left Overs," an improvisation on the theme of death.
As a mime, Mitler has a marvelously mobile face and rubbery limbs. The problem is that he needs a better material. He seems satisfied to get his measure of laughs by jumping and grimacing around the stage. Even improvisation needs to start from a point of view or focus.
In "Coming Out," Mitler has some funny moments as he feverishly mimicks and carries on a quipping narration of a "difficult birth," playing the baby reluctant to leave the womb, father, mother, doctor, Dr. Kildare, nurse, witch doctor, and Jewish rabbi among others. But "Left Overs," the improvised skit on death, is tasteless and offensive without any of the redeeming sardonic view of black humor. One of Mitler's skits is to enter the brain of a dying cancer patient and create a loutish "Unconscious" in dialogue with the "Subconscious." One such scene is caricatured as a "Star Trek" episode.
Robert Martin, on various instruments, and Barry Berman, on the lights, improvises along with Mitler. The program promises guest musicians for the remaining performances at 8 p.m. through Sunday. The Source Theater is located at 1809 14th St. NW.