ALL WEAR BOWLERS is really hot

Trey Lyford and Geoff Sobelle (but imagine grainy and black & white)

I won't give any details. That's the way I myself like to approach a night at the theatre (that is, with just enough information to tell me it's going to be worth a detour) and that's the way Barry and I came to ALL WEAR BOWLERS on Thursday.

Well, I do remember reading something about Laurel and Hardy, Magritte, and Beckett. I also saw promotional images which showed two very hot men, each usually holding an egg in his open mouth. And to be fair, I admit we had already seen each of these wonderful performers several times before, working with separate companies (Trey Lyford with The Civilians and Geoff Sobelle with the Pig Iron Theatre Company). We knew we weren't going to miss their collaboration for anything, so I guess we did have a lot of information after all.

Now that I've seen it I will say that nothing I've read since and none of the images or short clips I've seen on line (don't go to the act's website - it doesn't begin to do the piece justice) can prepare anyone for what happens at the HERE Arts Center on lower 6th Avenue.

Like most everyone else in the audience, I laughed out loud throughout more than half of the evening's single act, and the rest of the time I was really worried about the survival of these two pure souls. Is this what our grandparents (great-grandparents?) experienced before talkies, before the victory of mass entertainment and the near-totally-unconditional surrender of live theatre?

In any event, I'm certain no one has ever seen anything like what these two performers are giving us today.

Their remarkable feat of collaboration has produced an extrordinary and compelling evening of sensitive drama. I admit that since all four members of our party sat in the front row, it would have been hard not to have been affected by what was going on only feet, or even inches, away. But since there were, I think, only four rows behind us, nobody is likely to miss anything.

And they shouldn't want to, but there are only two more weeks to secure a seat.

ALL WEAR BOWLERS is almost perfectly brilliant.

[image, by Gregory Costanzo, from Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe]

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Published on February 26, 2005 11:04 PM.

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