A&E » Arts

Illusionary vision



Moscow-trained mime livens up Whistler outdoors despite hearing disability

There’s more to mime than meets the eye.

At least that was true for Selena Lohan, who married and now collaborates with performer Max-I-Mime, a.k.a. Max Fomitchev.

You can catch him on Friday, Aug. 2 at noon at the Village Common, on Sunday, Aug. 4 at 12:30 p.m. at the Village Common, and on Tuesday, Aug. 6 as 12:30 at the same venue.

Lohan, a talent agent with Lucas Entertainment Vancouver who also represents the mime, took a moment to discuss the life and times of "the charmer," whom she calls an "amazing lip-reader" – and who is also deaf.

"I was working in the office for Denim apparel company," she says. "When we met he was learning to speak English, and worked his way from being a packer in the back to being a shipping co-ordinator.

"For some reason, out of hundreds, mine was the only stapler he wanted to borrow," quips Lohan, who collaborates with Max-I-Mime for short film scripts and sketch cabarets.

He began training as a mime at age 13 in Moscow, at the performing arts school Shukin University.

An intense five-year program led to a degree with a major in fine arts (drama) and an unusual minor, in political economics.

On tour in Canada at age 27 with a troupe from Moscow, he escaped with a fellow performer named Vlad.

Unable to attain work status at that time under Canadian immigrtion policy, they proceeded to perform on a volunteer basis at more than 1,000 shows.

At the same time he was developing shows of his own, including a traditional mime performance as a solo show.

And while this weekend showcases mime comedy as family-style entertainment, that’s not all the power-entertainment duo do.

"One of his more sophisticated theatre shows is called Rain Man, which I wrote, then Max brought alive," says Lohan.

"It’s a haunting story of a lonely man who dances with his imaginary wife, and Max is amazing with all the unusual physical techniques to bring inanimate objects alive," says Lohan, who recently completed a short film called Supermime.

The 14-minute film follows the character of a mild mannered mime by day, action hero by night. They submitted that project to the Vancouver Comedy festival and other B.C. festivals.

Fomitchev has appeared in the comedy film Saving Silverman (Jason Biggs) and Cold Squad, both shot in Vancouver.

The two explore humour with a dangerous edge.

"We wrote one show called Pork Salad Annie, which followed this yuppie couple in northern B.C. that get trapped in this twilight situation where every café wants to sell them pork," says Lohan.

"Part of the pig mafia is around, and they have to sell pork products or get their knee caps broken!"

That show was inspired by some true life situations the couple experienced while touring the Yukon.

"I felt like I was in Russia!" she laughs.