Booze, Sports and Romance
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
June 14, 2009
Danny Bowes has taken the title of the Antidepressant Festival very seriously: in Booze, Sports, & Romance, he tackles three very different and very effective stimulants in a little over an hour, and sends his audience out smiling and satisfied.
This is a solo show with two other people in it. These others are Becky Byers and Patrick Cann, who perform short movement pieces that precede three monologues that are written and performed by Bowes. Byers and Cann are graceful and funny, but in the end I'm not sure that these vignettes are really necessary. Because Danny Bowes is the chief attraction here, and he's a likable, charming presence whom we're happy to spend time with.
The monologues themselves are loose, rambling riffs on each of the play's titular subjects; Bowes calls them "dissertations" more than once. The ideas here are often as hilarious and as intellectually rigorous as the work of the late Spalding Gray, but without the intricate structure; I was reminded more of the comic monologists of my youth: think Lenny Bruce without the deliberate provocation or Bill Cosby with a hard, contemporary edge. Bowes tells stories about himself that border on the nakedly confessional, but always with self-deprecatory humor and a clear-eyed sense of having moved past what he describes for us.
All three monologues could use some tightening, but the material is all solid. Some standout anecdotes include Bowes's account of his first and only bar fight (in the "Booze" section), his remembrance of a disastrous Little League playoff game (in "Sports"), and a very funny, very vivid tale involving himself, a foreign exchange student from England, and a drunk limo driver ("Booze" again). Bowes is a master of voices and brings many of his characters to life with his vocal impressions (in fact, I would have liked even more of that in this show). His writing is wry and witty, with plenty of bite and more than a little wistfulness.
Booze, Sports, & Romance is an entertaining and revealing evening of theatre that shows off Danny Bowes's range as performer and writer. I look forward to experiencing more of both in the future.