REVIEW by Willard Manus

Marcel Marceau last appeared in L.A. three years ago, doing a guest bit with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, but he returned this summer with a full two-act solo show which played to near-capacity houses at the Geffen Playhouse.

At 79, Marceau moves a little more deliberately and cautiously than he did in the past, but his body is still trim and supple, and his hands and face haven't lost any of their expressiveness. In the first half of his show, "Pantomimes of Style," Marceau's emphasis was on man facing mortality and outside forces--gravity, a raging sea, fate--and, most of the time, being defeated by them. In Act Two's "Pantomimes of Blip," though, a more entertaining and upbeat Marceau took over, charming and delighting the audience with his sly, homorous touches. In his striped shirt and stovepipe hat, Bip is a memorable everyman, a signature creation ranking with Chaplin's Little Tramp. Marceau is to mime what Chaplin was to film.

(At the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood. On Sept. 10 David Eldridge's UNDER THE BLUE SKY will have its West Coast premiere at the Playhouse, with Gil Cates directing. The run is through Oct. 20. Call (310) 208-5454).