We’re so lucky here in Marin, to be so close to San Francisco and Berkeley and yet so often have world-class entertainment right in our own backyard, so to speak. At the moment, I’m thinking of the wondrous physical comedian and actor Geoff Hoyle, who is bringing his latest solo show, Geezer, to the Lark Theater, in downtown Larkspur, on Saturday, March 22. He’s also performing the play at the Marsh in Berkeley this month and next. Not on that night, of course.
Geezer premiered in 2011 at the original Marsh, in San Francisco, but instead of going to see Hoyle then, I waited patiently for him to bring the play to me. He did, last fall, and I was all set to see him at the Throckmorton Theatre, in Mill Valley, when some cousins unexpectedly came into town, and I spent the evening with them instead.
So you can imagine how delighted I was to find out that one night next week, Hoyle is going to be literally walking distance from my home, at the beautifully restored 1936 Art Deco Lark movie theater. Hoyle is a Bay Area treasure, so deft and clever at portraying different individuals, often in the same smart and funny tale. I’ve seen him in just about every play he’s been in (and a couple of movies, such as Popeye) since I moved to the Bay Area in the early ’80s.
This show, like so many solo shows that emerge from the Marsh, was developed with and directed by David Ford. I've seen a number of fine one-person plays that Ford has shepherded into existence, by actors like the super-talented Brian Copeland and Charlie Varon as well as Geoff Hoyle. Ford is really a master at what he does, and in Larkspur, he’ll be onstage himself for a change, introducing Hoyle and giving us a bit of behind-the-scenes insight into the production.
Geezer is no doubt the most personal play Hoyle has ever created. As the title suggests, it’s about aging, and I understand from the ecstatic reviews when the play first opened that Hoyle will show us his father, a typesetter in Yorkshire, who died at 60; the Latin teacher who set Hoyle on the path to performing; the mime master Étienne Decroux, with whom Hoyle studied in Paris; as well as moments in his later life: with the Bay Area’s famed-in-its-day Pickle Family Circus, on Broadway in The Lion King, with his three children, one of whom grew up to become a splendid solo performer himself. I’ve seen Dan Hoyle twice, most recently in The Real Americans, and his dad and mother must be incredibly proud of him.
But thank goodness, his dad is still going strong himself, even if this play is about what it’s like to grow old.
March 22, Lark Theater, 549 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, 415.924.5111, larktheater.net; Thursdays and Saturdays, March 20-April 26 (but not March 22), The Marsh Berkeley Arts Center, 2120 Allston Way, 415.282.3055, themarsh.org.