October 26, 1998
Rep's 'Fool Moon' is guaranteed laughter
by Deborah Stone
Seattle Rep's production of "Fool Moon" is the brainchild of two well-known and beloved clowns, Bill Irwin and David Shiner. These gifted vaudevillians in their baggy pants and bowler hats are master mimics and slapstick artists who are capable of eliciting laughter to the point of tears from their audiences.
With their elastic bodies and rubbery faces, Irwin and Shiner are an unbeatable combination who share the gift of spontaneous inventiveness. "Fool Moon" is a comic revue comprised of a collection of skits, all done through body language (neither man speaks a line in the show), that demonstrates the pair's ability to work off of one another, as well as their own individually defined styles.
Irwin has a sweet and gentle comic personality, whereas Shiner is more hard-edged, quick-witted and aggressive. The contrast does wonders for the farcical conflict they set up in several of their routines.
The show is further enhanced by the energetic music of the Red Clay Ramblers, a string band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, known for their eclectic repertory. The group plays their mixture of country, rock, bluegrass, folk, gospel and old-time mountain music in a roadhouse style.
Audience participation, at various intervals during the production, incites some of the heartiest deep-down belly laughs. The most memorable stunt involving audience collaboration has Shiner directing three men and a woman in an elaborate mock silent-movie melodrama. Shiner's brilliant improvisational talent shines as he leads his cast in their roles to the final "take." The theatre convulses in laughter while cheering on the 'actors.'
The show plays at the 5th Avenue Theatre through Nov. 1. 206-443-2222.