Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Last night, I took a trip back to my high school days, and was reminded of how far I've traveled since graduating. Now I'm left wondering if I have traveled too far.

I saw the show "All Wear Bowlers" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, the latest acquisition of Los Angeles's esteemed Center Theatre Group. The space used to be a movie house, and now is a newly-opened theatre that devotes itself to more original pieces than its big brothers The Ahmanson Theatre and The Mark Taper Forum.

The former movie house setting is perfect for the show, which critics have described as a combination of Laurel & Hardy, Samuel Beckett and Rene Magritte. Which basically means that it's a surreal silent film played out before you on stage. It is a funny, haunting, inventive piece of theater that reminded me of a less-gimmicky "Blue Man Group".

The show starts with a silent film. We see two men hopelessly wandering a deserted plain. Suddenly, by accident, there's a flash of light, and one of them finds himself lying on the floor of the theatre. He gets up, notices the audience and, in a wonderful trick of synchronization, steps back onto the screen to tell the other man about this newly discovered universe. Soon, they are literally leaping between screen and stage like children playing with a new toy. But when the film burns up, they find themselves trapped inside the theater with no escape.

They make due, unscrewing two of the theater seats and bringing them onstage, performing a ventriloquist act and, in an astoundingly simple but effective trick, creating an invisible third cast member. And yet they seem scared of the theater, for good reason. Eggs keep popping up in unusual places, light fixtures fall from the rafters and gravity starts becoming optional.

The show's influences are numerous, and yet you do not need to know anything about them to enjoy the show. In fact, I wished that I had seen the show back in high school, when I had never seen a Buster Keaton film, had never stared at Magritte's "Son of Man" and had only half-read "Waiting For Godot" before proclaiming, "I don't get it."

I realized this fact as Brey and I were leaving the theater. She was bouncing around, giddy and excited about what she had just seen. I, however, was in the hypnotic state I usually assume after seeing a great piece of theatre: Eyes down, gears spinning, head a million miles away. Brey confessed that I'm depressing in such a state.

I suddenly thought back to my first taste of alternative theater, which happened my sophomore year of high school in Spokane, Washington after seeing the national tour of "Stomp". I left the Spokane Opera House drumming on my stomach, wanting to dance around from the adrenaline the show left in me. However, seven years later, the only evidence of my excitement getting the better of me was the way I flew from my seat to applaud and cheer the two performers for their curtain call.

I realized that I thrust myself from high school straight into the adult world. Within two years of graduating, I was working an office job, paying bills, earning credit. And being a patron of the theatre, I became civilized and analytical. I could not remember the last time I responded to something the way I responded to "Little Shop of Horrors" in the sixth grade, "Rhapsody in Blue" in junior high or "Magnolia" my senior year of high school. I suddenly realized something very horrifying...

I grew up.

I felt the harsh sting of those three words as we walked back to my car. I felt awful for being so old and depressing (which only made me more depressing) and Brey felt awful for bringing it up (which was only depressing me more). We entered the parking garage and approached my car. As I was searching my pockets for the parking ticket, Brey, sensing that something drastic had to be done, suddenly walked off and sat down, silently, playfully challenging me to do something, anything.

I suddenly felt my high school days return to me and, in the middle of the parking garage, I launched into an impromptu routine that would not be out of place in the show that we had just seen. As I kept trying to walk to her, I jerked my arms and legs as if some invisible force was pulling me around. It culminated in a series of jerks and spasms that ended with me landing right in front of her.

Anyone could have seen me (and I'm sure a few people did), but I didn't care. It needed to be done. I cannot let my job and my desires to support myself through entertainment rob me of my childhood. I cannot grow up too much. I need to be a little bit naive, a little bit innocent, a little bit goofy. So thank god for this show and for my girl.

And to end on a completely random note: I have a personalized Google homepage that gives me a new word definition every day. And this was today's entry:

"virago: an ill-tempered, overbearing woman; also, a woman of great strength and courage"

Am I the only one that finds it odd that a woman who has great strength and courage is also thought of as ill-tempered and overbearing?

Hey Gable, it sounds like having a girlfriend now, you've found a few other things to do besides updating your blog! Hope life is going okay for you...I'm holding down the fort here in CDA! Take care buddy!
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