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LETTERS TO EDITOR
|A CurtainUp Review
By Les Gutman
When you see as much "serious" theater as I do, you sometimes have to be reminded what the "purpose" of a show like Fool Moon is. That reminder came from the other side of the audience, in the form of a giggle. It started early on. The source: a boy that I would judge to be about ten years old. He couldn't stop laughing. Few could resist being tickled silly by Bill Irwin and David Shiner.
This is the third visit of Fool Moon to Broadway, and the current incarnation is geared to help everyone celebrate the holidays -- it runs essentially from Thanksgiving until the New Year. The brand of comedy practiced by Irwin and Shiner -- physical clowning at its zenith -- transcends demographics. Octogenarians laugh just as hard as their great-grandchildren; there's no need for an infrared listening device since there are no words to miss. It's a cavalcade of mime, slapstick and vaudeville. No topical spin. No moral lesson. No deep meaning. Just unapologetic fun.
What's perhaps most remarkable is how well Irwin and Shiner are able to communicate with their audience. Without words, they develop refined personalities, loves, hates, friends and enemies. They have us eating out of their hands and doing as we're told. There is no fourth wall here. Even before the show begins, Shiner is wandering mysteriously through the audience, scoping out potential victims for his shenanigans. The show begins in the audience and returns there again and again. And it's a two-way street: some of the show's best entertainment finds members of the audience onstage, and an army of casting directors couldn't improve on what they add to the show.
Irwin and Shiner are also joined onstage by The Red Clay Ramblers, Broadway's favorite band of oddball country bumpkins. They work perfectly, dexterously providing musical interludes and backgrounds that emanate from their bluegrassy origins in North Carolina and yet cross musical boundaries fluidly. A hysterical song reporting on a country boy's first trip to the opera, to see I Pagliacci, is a memorable highlight.
So... Leave your pretensions and inhibitions at home, bring the whole family (this one is perfectly suitable from 8 to 80 and even those younger and older will have a good time) and be prepared to laugh.