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I grew up watching Red Skelton on TV, cheered Marcel Marceau on stage, loved the sad-faced clowns who piled out of tiny cars at the circus, laughed ’til I wept when my college cinematheque presented Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton retrospectives, and marveled later at the new-vaudeville clowning of Bill Irwin, so I’m hardly a mimophobe. Still, much as I wanted to revel in Mark Jaster’s hour-long The Seven Ages of Mime, I found myself arguing with it instead, more at Jaster’s choices than at his execution. He’s a talented guy who studied with Marceau’s teacher, Etienne Decroux, and who has devoted much of his adult life to promoting a form that’s regularly—and unfairly—ridiculed in popular culture. Unlike the street performers who trap themselves in invisible boxes, Jaster is an artist, and in an evening he’s subtitled “the mute and the muse,” he means to trace the history of his art. Grant him the nobility of the effort, and as he starts with a routine in which an ancient Roman entertainer loses his voice and tries to act out a tale as his assistant (Sabrina Mandell) recites it, Jaster seems onto something. A subsequent commedia dell’arte sequence, performed entirely in fractured Italian, provides a pleasantly unintelligible bridge to genuine silence. And if a Pierrot bit seems a tad highfalutin, you relax because what’s next is a “Circus” scene. Alas, it swipes Harpo Marx’s mirror sketch from Duck Soup, not vintage Emmett Kelly, and for a “Silent Film” sketch that follows, Jaster lifts a sequence from Chaplin’s sound film Modern Times that’s so dependent on the Chaplin persona and music that it barely seems to be about mime at all. By the time Jaster is doing Marceau’s “David and Goliath” sketch—I mean no disrespect when I say that the performer is not the equal of Harpo/Chaplin/Marceau—mime fans are likely to be pondering the distinction between homage and theft. Newcomers to mime will likely be amused, but with Jaster offering a pale imitation of something that’s available in film clips at the library, real aficionados will likely find the trapped-in-a-cage bit that ends the show a little too eerily apt.