I saw All Wear Bowlersa at the Berkeley Rep on opening night. It was one of the most entertatining pieces of comedy I’ve seen in a while. The productions I saw earlier this semester (Lorin, Blood in the Brain, and Passing Strange) were good too, but I Bowlers really hit the spot for me in my stressful end of semester dance.
The play is of a piece with Beckett — two hapless fellows somehow get trapped on stage. What’s different is that these two actors, Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford, are incredibly skilled physical comedians. Dressed in vaudevillian baggy pants, vests, and coats, the pair clown their way around, messing with the audience (note : do not get seats in the main level, house left corner), and most of all trying to escape. There are wonderful conceits in the play — a silent film rolls and they duck behind the screen and into the film (the mind boggles at the sense of timing), interruptions from the soundtrack, and so on. The piece reminds me a bit of one of my all-time favorite films growing up : Bill Irwin in The Regard of Flight. It has some of the same sensibilities, although Irwin was trying to say more about theater in an overt way, whereas in Bowlers you feel like you’re watching a kind of aquarium show.
I don’t have too many intelligent things to say, except that it’s damn entertaining and its going on tour I think, so if it comes by your neck of the woods, definitely see it.