"Warning: A Live Mime is Abused in This Performance."
This sign opens "To Kill a Mime" at Theatre/Theater, a modestly amusing comedy sketch by Tom Hale about a boy born without speech who grows up to be "Meem." But the warning sign should be for the audience, which suffers abuse as the sketch is stretched into "modern tragedy."
Hale acts as narrator while J.P. Manoux mimes the story. We watch "Meem" in white face and black tights climb from orphanage to college, earning a M.O.S. (Master of Silence), falling in and out of love, and at last dying of a broken heart.
Unfortunately, Manoux is no Marcel Marceau.
Along Meem's path of broken dreams, we hear every possible pun on the art of mime. He suffers from "mime bashing," protests "justifiable mimicide," learns that "cruelty to mimes is funny."
"If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around," asks a "Far Side" cartoon, "and if it hits a mime, does anyone care?"
* "To Kill a Mime," Theatre/Theater, 1713 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. Saturdays, 10:30 p.m., Sunday matinees, 1 p.m. Ends June 13. $7.50. (310) 826-1582. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.