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September 28, 2014
Review: Human Identity at the United Solo Festival
Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace.
Christopher Vened in "Human Identity." Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace.

Christopher Vened's Human Identity, a one-man show at Theatre Row and part of the United Solo Festival's hundreds of offerings through November, is not exactly theater, although it is true to the one-man show status. Vened makes it clear from the starting gate that he is virtually obsessed of late with understanding the nature of the title subject, which he has in the past explored as an acting teacher. The show is in fact a kind of self-cannibalism: Vened was motivated to create it from a part of his In Character: An Actor's Workbook for Character Development. This has been translated into to a hybrid of performance and goofy-professor lecture, in which Vened explains more than he acts. It should also be noted that the subject of human identity - if you are thinking along the lines of individual selfhood, personality, sense of being, and such - is vastly overshadowed by an enthusiastic delving into anthropology. A solid twenty minutes at least, for example, goes to the differences between human hand grips and those of apes. We win, for the record, but you do begin to wonder when and how the test will be administered.

At the same time, there is something to be said for goofy professors. Provided you are not unduly distressed by a flagrant deviation from the advertised concept - and a running time in great need of some scissoring - you can enjoy Vened's considerable assets as a performer/professor. You will find, for instance, that mime is not annoying when the mime speaks, and Vened is accomplished and graceful. He discounts his own elasticity early on, but he still got it. Vened has a wide-eyed eagerness that is downright boyishly engaging, and his Polish accent is endearing. Essentially, this is a strong stage presence very much calling for stronger material. More fun, more focus, fewer apes, and there you are.

Human Identity is presented as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival, which continues through November 23. For more information and tickets, visit


The United Solo Festival at Theatre Row continues through November 23.

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Written by: Jack Mauro
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