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All Over the Map

A very skilled and engaging gay performer shares his adventures and observations in this delightful solo-show about his touring the U.S. and the world.

Bill Bowers in a scene from “All Over the Map” (Photo to credit: Maria Baranova-Suzuki)

Bill Bowers in a scene from “All Over the Map” (Photo to credit: Maria Baranova-Suzuki)

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

Bill Bowers is a mime that speaks.  In this delightful multimedia solo-show, All Over the Map he does both superbly.   It’s 70 minutes of his dramatized recollections and quirky observations of traveling across the U.S. and around the world for over 30 years.  “Everything you are about to hear is One-hundred-percent, absolutely true.”

A rabbit attending one of his workshops in Montana, a hilarious involvement with Xaviera Hollander best known as The Happy Hooker in Holland, African-American school children in New Jersey, the Amish in Montana, AIDS, civil disobedience in Poland, the toilets in Japan, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Greek homophobia in Macedonia are among the subjects that are covered.

Mime is a way of saying things without saying anything.

Mime is about expressing feelings with our bodies, using imagination…”

The cheery Mr. Bowers also explains that in the mime tradition only mimes in whiteface are silent.  He simply but breathtakingly mimes a multitude of actions, objects and situations that precisely conjure up the intended imagery. Written by Bowers, the show is comprised of a series of stories of varying length that perfectly transition from one to the other.

He enters the black walled stage carrying four wooden chairs that he sets up and uses to represent cars, buses and other things and there are no other props.  Above the stage there are three screen panels that project whimsically styled slides showing the time and places on maps as well as illustrative photographs.

Resized 350 - horizontal - Bill Bowers in All Over the Map (Maria Brancova-Suzuki)

Bill Bowers in a scene from “All Over the Map” (Photo to credit: Maria Baranova-Suzuki)

With his subtle yet commanding physicality and soothing voice that possesses great range, Bowers offers a variety of finely etched characterizations.  He also presents himself, as a character that we learn with matter of factness is gay.  All of this is accomplished with expert comic timing and dramatic directness.

During his lengthy career he has been an actor on Broadway as Zazu in Disney’s The Lion King and has appeared in many Off and Off-Off Broadway and regional productions.  There have been film and television appearances as well as several solo-shows.  Many of his endeavors are residencies at schools and institutions teaching mime and performance.

Director Martha Banta has staged everything with swiftness and clarity providing a visually and emotionally striking showcase for Bowers.  Ms. Banta also developed this project with him.

In addition to the expertly realized production and Bower’s exceptional story telling skills the show features excellent technical aspects.

Bryce Cutler’s production design wonderfully complements the performance with its crisp display of photographs and maps.  The lighting design of Ed McCarthy and the sound design of Matt Stine are both accomplished and creatively highlight the perpetually shifting temporal and geographic landscapes.  Ryan Howell’s scenic design is strategically spare. Costume designer Michael Growler has selected lively street clothes for Bowers to wear.

The theater company All For One presents this premiere in repertory with another solo-show, Thao’s LibraryAll Over the Map is a dynamic vehicle for Bill Bowers and beautifully reflects his vision of humanity with all of its charms, flaws and complexities.

All Over the Map (through May 8, 2016 in rotating repertory with Thao’s Library)

All For One

The Lion Theatre on Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 800-447-7400 or visit http://www.afo.nyc

Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (370 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

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