Friday, April 29, 2016

Review: Traveling Man

by Michael Block

Not everyone can say they've seen the world but Bill Bowers sure can! In Bowers' All Over the Map, presented by All For One Theater, a gay mime from Montana recounts his international tales of intrigue that include a bunny mime, The Happy Hooker, and a nudist colony. And that’s just the tip of the ice burg.
photo by Maria Baranova-Suzuki
With stories for days, Bowers has seen it all. In All Over the Map, Bowers takes the audience on a journey through 50 states and 25 countries as he takes his show on the road, meeting an eclectic array of personalities and gaining experiences that will stick with him for life. Written and performed by Bill Bowers, All Over the Map is wonderfully entertaining led by a whimsical performer. All Over the Map is all over the timeline, jumping from year to year where a cast of batty characters and inexplicable encounters fuel the narrative. All Over the Map doesn't rely on a forward-moving story. The tales could easily be flip flopped with one another and the message will still be had. The central theme is truly embrace the unexpected. And with every story Bowers shares, you truly can't believe what could happen next. With the content interchangeable, Bowers has room to play and do what he does best: entertain. Even when the mood gets somber or more internal, he manages to captivate. There's an ease to Bowers’ storytelling. No matter the tone or content, Bill Bowers is comfortable. You can tell he is a seasoned veteran whether playing verbal storyteller or mute mime.
All Over the Map utilized some video projections to help assist the audience with location and time. Designed by Bryce Cutler , it was cutesy. Unlike the other show running in All For One Theater's rep season, if the video wasn't present, All Over the Map could still succeed. And that's at testament to Bowers’ performance prowess. Simplicity was director Martha Banta's secret trick. With only five chairs from scenic designer Ryan Howell, Bowers built a world. Lighting designer Ed McCarthy found beauty in color and focus. By differentiating the looks, tightening in on Bowers allowed the intimate moments to capture hearts.
When you leave a solo show feeling as if you now are the performers best friend, it's safe to say the objective was accomplished. In sixty minutes, Bill Bowers welcomed the audience into his life with open arms. It's evident he has more stories to tell and I look forward to the next show and the new lot of material. It’s safe to say that Bill Bowers is world class.