Dave Shirley describes his one-man show ODDVILLE, A Love Story? as Blue Man Group meets the 40-Year-Old Virgin. “Mostly I get a weird look from people about how you put those two things together,” he says.
Shirley, who is bringing his show to The Temporary on Friday, combines acting and video, music and physical movement to tell the classic story of lonely boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy tries to get girl back. But nothing about the telling is classic.
For starters, Shirley, who is loquacious when discussing his show, gives a completely silent performance in ODDVILLE.
“It wasn’t my intent not to talk, and it was a bit of a surprise for people because I have a big mouth,” he says. “But when I originally started this show my intent was different from where I ended up.”
Shirley began his theatrical career as a street performer in Denver and then at various ports while he was in the Navy. He did the standard shtick: juggling. And there was nothing new or unique about his show, he claims. “I was doing nothing special, and there came a point where I didn’t want to create the same old thing.”
After his military service ended, he signed up for improv classes, which led to sketch shows, which led to him opening a theater in Denver. But writing and creating his own work was his passion, and inspired by his early comedic influences – Jerry Lewis, Steve Martin, Buster Keaton, Penn & Teller – he began combining all the talents he possessed into ODDVILLE, which is a very physically demanding show, as his body is a substitute for words.
His character, called Lonely 1, is caught between existing onstage and inside a video screen. Between these worlds, he battles obstacles on his quest for true love. The oddity of his show and his sensibility, Shirley says, come from his affection for edgy and unusual performances he saw growing up, like Steve Martin’s Great Flydini, where he performs magic, making things appear out of the fly of his pants, without ever saying a word, and Penn & Teller, who turned classic magic tricks into something unexpected and weird.
“There’s an old magic trick called the card stab, which is: pick a card, any card, and someone would take a knife and stab a card in the air, and the card they picked would be on the knife, and they would do it with Penn’s hand. It would be bleeding all over but the card would be there, so there were these ridiculous twists. I was naturally drawn toward that.”
His show is not unlike pulling things out of thin air, as it is completely unique and distinctly his.
“I once had someone after the show tell me that seeing this show reminded them of seeing Cirque du Soleil for the first time in that it’s a different kind of circus. You can’t prepare people for this; it’s a bit of a magic trick without it being a magic show.”
ODDVILLE, A Love Story?
Friday, May 11
Doors open at 7 p.m.
Show at 8 p.m.