Posted by: trailerpilot | 04:19::2009

Cupola Bobber

In Way Out West, the Sea Whispered Me, performance duo Cupola Bobber employ two kinds of comic timing: Crack, and none. A few of the show’s jokes are like darts flying right past your ear to thunk into a bull’s eye on the wall behind your head, but most of the punchlines are revealed like the pale, soft bodies of victims slowly stripping off their clothes at gunpoint. I imagined what Samuel Beckett doing standup would be. It’s transfixing, feels very new and, like the rest of the work, I really enjoyed it.


Tyler B. Myers of Cupola Bobber.

I was blessed to see WOWTSWM the night after Compagnie Marie Chouinard; different in every conceivable way from one another and both planted firmly in the extreme, they made a great pair. If you want to take advantage as well, hit the MCA today at 3 and then catch one of Cupola Bobber’s four remaining shows. It’s a great, vast journey from one to the other.

Stephen Fiehn and Tyler B. Myers’ show dwells in silence. Some of the sonic elements they employ, like a microphone pointed at a small oscillating fan barely picking up its intermittent breeze, are delicate to the point of inducing a meditative state. Another section finds Myers creating a proxy shoreline out of a tarpaulin, rope and pulley, making a big blue wave crash repeatedly into the space, then fold on itself and retreat into disappearance. Repeated without mutation (like many of the show’s elements) dozens of times, this especially is an entrancing bit of theater. I was stunned to realize that in watching I was having no different an experience than I do when on the beach, watching the tide come in. That Myers and Fiehn can approximate a force of nature with crude materials and a modest technical setup speaks not only to their resourcefulness but powers of observation and willingness to execute even the simplest actions with care.

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900) The Icebergs, 1861. From the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900) The Icebergs, 1861. From the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Improbably but effectively, a thread of vaudeville is integrated into their Church-esque images of towering peaks, the sea(side), clouds and sand. Fiehn and Myers are in matching seersucker blazers and brown pants and at one point burst into a soft-shoe number that’s hilarious and touching and which destroys around fifty small sand houses Myers had just completed casting onto the floor. Disaster themes are recurring; there’s a leitmotif of travel that slowly reveals itself to be more specifically of involuntary travel, displacement by fleeing the destructive power of unflinching Nature. Indeed, the opening image of WOWTSWM is Myers entering the space looking rumpled and exhausted, carrying a few dirty suitcases, a watering can, and an umbrella. He’s not a man going on vacation; someone looking like that and carrying suddenly-essential items isn’t on a round trip. Static as much of the (non) action is, this opening in fact sets a maintained tone that suggests the two are on a boat, maybe fighting scurvy and delusional, forcibly entertained by yet also barely tolerant of each others’ company. The recurrence of sand especially calls to mind the irony of wayward sailors faced with dehydration despite the water all around them.

Car and wagon buried in dust storm, 1930s.

Car and wagon buried in dust storm, 1930s. Photo upside down on purpose. See the show.

Cupola Bobber do timely performance just the way I like it: WOWTSWM is most definitely sensitive to the issues of the day, especially impending environmental apocalypse &c., but they find a point of entry to address these issues that doesn’t pull away from the creative impulse or the creation of another world inside ours. Aiding enormously are a fearless commitment to the most stubbornly difficult moments and the potent payoff of a sublime finish.

Cupola Bobber’s Way Out West, the Sea Whispered Me repeats tonight and next weekend at Link’s Hall.



  1. […] but not least, Cupola Bobber (who I adore) are caring and sharing Saturday May 9 from 12-4:30pm with a workshop exploring “non-linear […]

  2. […] Here’s a review of Cupola Bobber’s Way Out West, the Sea Whispered Me. Damn that was a good show. April 19, 2009 […]

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