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ARTS

But enough about me

First-person journeys through the absurd, the tiny, the troubled and surreal

Photo: , License: N/A, Created: 2008:07:10 20:36:57


If you saw Wanderlust or The Bike Trip, Dockery’s previous Fringe hits, you know his hyperverbal schtick; with his burning eyes, wild gesticulation, shaggy hair and rail-skinny frame, Martin reminds me of that homeless guy off I-4 I’m scared to give spare change to. But unlike in his previous plays, this time Dockery takes an occasional breather from his breakneck rambling, revealing a greater focus and clarity of purpose behind his intensity. The fever pitch is still present, but now there’s stronger connective tissue between his tangled tangents.

With a few beautiful turns of phrase (“The wind is blowing so fast it’s possible to believe the world is picking up speed”) Dockery ends his tale with the gentle story of a lovelorn old man he met in a youth hostel, concluding on an uplifting and elegiac note. Dockery may still be an impulsive madman prone to reading High Times and sexual adventurism, but if this show is any indication, his walk in the footsteps of Jesus seems to have been good for his soul – or at least his scriptwriting.

What do Gilgamesh, Luke Skywalker and SEAL Team Six have in common with a convicted insurance fraudster? They are all classical heroes, at least according to Chase Padgett. The star of last year’s hit 6 Guitars radically shifts gears with Superman Drinks, an eloquent autobiographical monologue that eschews multiple fictionalized musical characters in favor of a deeply personal direct address to the audience.

Padgett’s soliloquy traces the mythological path of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces, illustrated by vignettes from Chase’s own troubled childhood as the son of successful businessman turned cocaine addict and ex-con. By exploring the hero’s journey in parallel with his father’s struggles – comparing his dad’s addictions to Tony “Iron Man” Stark’s alcoholism, for example – Padgett brings humor and empathy to an obviously painful tale. As an added bonus, you’ll learn about customized Stratocaster guitars, orphaned Disney princesses, and what to do if you’re abandoned outside a casino at age 4.

With the aid of co-writer and director Jay Hopkins, Padgett has created a pared-down but sophisticated performance, with liquid verbal pacing and minimal but impactful movement. I found this part-lecture/part-confessional engaging until the end, but I have two small qualms. One, though this stellar musician teases us by having guitars frame the stage throughout, he only plays one song, at the very end. Two, this intimate show is ill-suited to the roomy Orange venue; I’d rather see this up close and personal in Brown or Pink.

Picture, in your mind, a boy. He is wearing a cowboy outfit and lying in a puddle next to his dog, who has just been electrocuted. Now the boy is a youth, lying in a meadow, stung nearly to death by bees. The youth is now a man, lying in bed next to the woman he loves, who will leave him. Now the man is standing stiffly before you in a dark suit and skinny tie, telling you the definition of fear in a rapid-fire monotone. Now, don’t picture a pink elephant.

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