Like all great clowns, Wolfe Bowart can make you laugh but he can also make you cry. Anyone who saw his enchanting show LaLaLuna in Joseph Seelig and Helen Lannaghan’s 2007 London International Mime Festival has longed for the American theatre clown to return to the event.
Letter’s End is another of his beautifully crafted one-man shows, in which he uses physical theatre, magic, circus skills and interactive film to unfold a story. There is no need to give too much away, but his theme of memory and memories is one of heart-breaking poignancy, yet told with the lightest touch. It is crammed full of joyful inventiveness and silliness; idea tumbles upon idea and yes, there are letters and lots of them.
Slim and energetic, Bowart wears a minimum of clown make-up, baggy trousers, a waistcoat, long shoes and a little felt hat. Charm is his domain and he holds the audience spellbound. Everything is precisely timed to an eclectic soundtrack of accordion, oompah, fairground or Klezmer music and with props popping out from here, smoke from there, things going up and down and noises off, there are a staggering 330 cues for him to hit. So SpoonTree’s technical director Chris Donnelly and stage manager Matteo Marino must also be acknowledged.
Bowart is a master of his art. From the simple room set, backed with washes of coloured light, and dotted with intriguing boxes, a glowing furnace and items as diverse as a gramophone and glue bottle, Letter’s End, both funny and sad, is a gorgeously attractive and entertaining show.