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Out and About Culture: All Wear Bowlers

March 2nd, 2005 · No Comments · Culture, Reviews, Theater

Tonight we saw “All Wear Bowlers“, a two man comedy performance piece playing at the Here Arts Center. Created and performed by Trey Lyford and Geoff Sobelle, the two men play characters from a silent film who literally walk off the screen to find themselves in a theatre full of people. From there, the gags commence as the two try to cope with their new surroundings where things are often not what they seem.

Lyford and Sobelle attempt to create an off-kilter, post-modern vaudeville routine that relies on slight-of-hand, sight gags, visual references, and physical humor to get their laughs, and until the latter part of the show, they do well with it. There are some very clever bits, though some of the slight-of-hand stunts are executed a little too obviously and a little clumsily. And all too often they draw out awkward moments for nervous laughs, which saps some of the show’s energy and requires a somewhat indulgent audience.

Those rough edges of execution and pacing are minor nits, though. My biggest problem is the overall thematic breakdown that takes place around two-thirds of the way through the performance, shortly before the “vicious ventriloquism” bit. Prior to this, things have been light and silly, and there’s been very little dialog, with one or two bits of profanity which are funny because they seem so very out of place coming from these characters. But here in the show, one of the characters turns “vicious” and spews an angry, curse-laden and rather unimaginative tirade at his co-performer which goes on much, much too long. From there, we are led into what felt like a long, unfocused and not-very funny improvisation while one character disappears into the audience. At this point, the end of the show came as a relief.

I did enjoy “All Wear Bowlers,” in spite of this. The first two thirds of the show are enjoyable and fun. I’m going to try to pretend that the last part didn’t happen, and it’s easy to do this since that part felt like it didn’t fit and was grafted on, and the show really feels complete without it. I think with a little work, mostly some editing and pacing improvements, and a little more practice on the slight of hand, the show would be very impressive.

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