Marcel Marceau - The Bowler Hat

Previewed 12 May 1998, Opened 15 May 1998, Closed 30 May 1998 at the Old Vic Theatre

Internationally famous performance artist Marcel Marceau presents his new show The Bowler Hat in London

The Bowler Hat is a comic fantasy and a love story set in London between both world wars. It is written and directed by Marcel Marceau.

Marcel Marceau performs The Pantomimes of Bip Sundays 17, 24 and 31 May 1998.

"Nobody gets trapped inside an invisible glass cube, glad to say, in Marcel Marceau's new 'mimodrame' The Bowler Hat - in French Le Chapeau Melon, and subtitled 'The fantastic journey of Jonathan Bowler'. There is a certain amount of walking-without-going-anywhere, to be sure, and of stair-climbing-without-stairs, but what would you expect in a mime show? I think you might expect it to be rather more fun. The scenario Marceau has devised for himself and his company - 14-strong, young and evidently very well-trained - is a piece of theatrical French poesie, the kind that rarely fares well this side of La Manche... Jonathan Bowler, a staid 'Treasury civil servant' (Marceau) is in unrequited love with a barmaid. He sees a dandy buying a Rudolph Valentino hat, and resolves to follow that dashing example and ditch his bowler. But his bowler refuses to be ditched; nothing will pry it off his head, though they try and they try for almost an hour, with rapidly diminishing returns in amusement... In ghastly tribute to Chaplin, there is even a blind flower-seller. She wears a fixed expression of goofy ecstasy, and a pair of soft ballet-slippers - invariably a temptation to go balletically mimsy, which she does. Most of the other players are wordlessly clever enough to leave bright traces of character on the evening, although few of them get any pointful chances to do real mime, as distinct from posturing and pulling faces... I admired the execution, but only that." The Financial Times

Marcel Marceau is quite possibly a genius, but I'm not sure it is possible to maintain genius for as long as it takes him and his mime company to perform The Bowler Hat. Beautifully choreographed, it's almost a ballet, but if this sad tale of a civil servant and his spooky indestructible titfer is a hit, I'll eat my fedora." The News of the World

"At the age of 75, Marceau defies time and its disadvantages, rather as an aged eagle defies gravity. I am not much of a one for mime; but the mastery of the man, the economy of his work, the restraint, eloquence and sheer vocabulary of his body language are still astonishing: lyrical, wistful and ironical, always deeply felt, hardly ever sentimental. His latest show, The Bowler Hat, is about an English civil servant in a make-believe Edwardian England who dreams of wearing a dashing Spanish hat but finds that he cannot get his bowler off his head. There is a touch of fey whimsicality in this story, but the subtlety of Marceau's performance overcomes it... As so often in Marceau's work, a sense of death lurks round the corner. The mime is an outsider, a solitary. Others act; the mime reacts. The mime is a Romantic: his body wants to speak a language that is beyond words. A bleakly and touchingly haunting show." The Sunday Times

The Bowler Hat with Marcel Marceau in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 12 May 1998, opened on 15 May 1998 and closed on 30 May 1998