KPBS AIRDATE: August 11, 2006
How do you like your comedy – verbal or visual? Of course, you don’t have to choose – though your brain may. Brilliant Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner once described how the left, analytical side of the brain is better at processing linguistic humor, and the right side of the brain is best with visual, physical humor. Cleverly throwing the Marx Brothers into the mix, he distinguished the two hemispheres as the Groucho side and the Harpo side. If you’re more the Groucho type, you’ll love the linguistic acrobatics of “All in the Timing.” If you lean precariously toward the slapstick side, you’ll fall for “all wear bowlers.”
This New Vaudeville production takes its inspiration from Beckett but has its roots in San Diego. The title, “all wear bowlers,” comes from a stage direction in “Waiting for Godot.” The method behind the madness comes from two multi-talented wackos who developed and perform the show. Trey Lyford perfected his crazy comic antics as a masters student at UCSD, while his partner, Geoff Sobelle, was busy attending the prestigious comic/clown movement/theater school of Jacques LeCoq in Paris. They have the look of Magritte, the sound of Mump and Smoot and the relationship of Laurel and Hardy. They’re Wyatt and Earnest, two likable losers who riotously hop on and off a silent film screen, fall from ladders, spew water and eggs, die and come back as a ventriloquist’s dummy, walk all over the audience, create a magical third bowler-wearer and generally turn the La Jolla Playhouse upside down. For me, a little of this humor goes a long way, though there are some truly brilliant moments in the sometimes repetitive 75 minutes. But right-brainers will be in Harpo Hog Heaven.
Now, for the more verbal and literary leaning, David Ives has created a sextet of playlets that are smart, witty and filled with intricate wordplay and hilarious intellectual allusions. In one vignette, three chimps try to play out the much publicized scientific conjecture that if you put a few apes in a room with typewriters, eventually they’ll produce Hamlet. There’s a side-splitting musical parody of the work of minimalist composer Philip Glass. And in his most quick-witted piece, Ives creates a new universal language, Unamunda, that you can just about totally understand, with its mangled malaprops and friendly greeting of ‘Velcro! Harvard U?’ This co-production of ion Theatre and InnerMission Productions, directed by Carla Nell and multi-talented Claudio Raygoza, features a versatile, comical cast: Laura Bozanich, Jonathan Sachs, Andrew Kennedy and Kim Strassburger, playing everything from a French chef to Leon Trotsky. Very funny stuff.. of the decidedly Groucho variety.
Theatre engages your brain – both sides of it.
©2006 Patté Productions Inc.