A dear friend used to rave about the extraordinary theatre experiences she’d have at The Ochre House, a small venue on Exposition, just a few blocks from Fair Park. She told me about the outlandish puppets, twisted humor, bizarre narratives and inspired vision of writer/producer/director Matthew Posey : creator behind most of Ochre House’s projects. She didn't exaggerate. They don’t always hit one out of the park, but Posey is operating so far off the grid, he can make his own rules. He’s so unconcerned with taste and propriety and boundaries, that we often watch out of our brazen fascination with a head-on collision. I don’t mean we’re engulfed because we’re aching to witness disaster, but the exhibition before us is so grotesque, playful, id-soaked, raunchy, cynically acerbic, loopy it’s like spying on a delinquent’s ball from the Planet Spandusia. It’s like (in the current case of Best Seat in Town) tuning in to Pee Wee’s Playhouse after he’d collaborated with Jean Genet and John Waters. Posey is our tour guide to the fringe dwellers, his characters are miles from polite society or even, say, the innocuously eccentric. He’s like David Lynch without the hallucinatory buffer or Lewis Carroll without the lofty conundrums.
Best Seat in Town is a musical chock-full of puppets, that follows the odyssey of Scotty Mankin, a car dealer who, on his way to an important meeting, winds up lost in Chilitown, a dodgy district of Nowhere City. While there he encounters Liliana Oppenheimer, a fellow traveler on this disappointing excursion we call humanity. She wears a big red dress that has poofy sleeves and a tiara. Among other Chilitown denizens he engages are : a couple of hostile buildings, a trio of singing flowers, a skanky sex worker with questionable hygiene, and Coppertone and Burny, two recovering ex-cons who bemoan the graft they must pay a gangster’s son named Lucy DiGiorno. Scotty himself is in deep with the mob, and must find a way to extricate himself and his two buddies from their desperate predicament.
Ironically, as I reflect and muse on the best way to convey the Best Seat in Town experience for you, it occurs to me it works most effectively (like so much at Ochre House) when you just play along with the trippy, icky, deliriously giddy hi-jinks and surrender to the visceral creepiness of it all. It would be easy to wonder if Posey achieves much of his momentum through sheer excess, but I honestly believe this is not the case. For all the impulsive, toxic, frothy, gleeful depravity, none of it feels random or contrived. I think Posey has a gift for spell casting, weaving his own deranged, disaffected cosmos for the audience, using simple, raw components to rattle our skulls and scramble our brains. Through the garb of satire he offers access to his melancholy, jaded slant on this troubled, trembling stone, hurtling through space.
The Ochre House presents Best Seat in Town, playing August 24th through September 14th, 2013, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8:15 PM. 825 Exposition Avenue, Dallas, Texas, 75226. 214-826-6273. ochrehousetheatre.com
The Best Seat in Town features : Matthew Posey, Justin Locklear, Kevin Grammer, Carla Parker, Cassie Bann, Mitchell Parrack, Trent Stephenson, Staci Moon, Christian Taylor, Dante Martinez, Marti Etheridge, Stefan Gonzales, Floyd Kearns-Simmons and Mike Townsen.