When you visit The Ochre House with any kind of frequency, you come to appreciate Director/Writer Matthew Posey's jaundiced, playful, petulant content, consistently wrapped in blissful unconventionality. The Passing Show (a biographical riff) is somewhat different in tone. It has a surprising warmth we don't often find in the acerbic, trippy satires so often staged at this tiny venue (just a couple of blocks from Fair Park) that Posey has changed into The Rabbit Hole. This is the final weekend for Posey's The Passing Show, featuring the ultracool shenanigans of Beatnik cum British Royalty : Lord Buckley (Ben Bryant) with his dizzy, fizzy tap-tap daddy-o interpretation of King Lear.
Inspired by the actual Lord Buckley, whose shtick and seminal influence engendered The Beat Movement, The Passing Show has a vaudevillian flare, beginning with two pop musicians (Trey Pendergrass and Justin Locklear) to warm up the audience for the indomitable Lord Buckley, sporting a tuxedo, pith helmet, saddle oxfords and a handlebar mustache. Along with his beloved spouse, Lady Buckley (Carla Parker) who provides admirable support, and places letters on a marquee in the background. Buckley sings, dances, philosophizes, digresses, falters and takes occasional breaks to bolster himself with weed. He also does his own, quirky spin on the tragedy of King Lear, juggling minimal “costumes” with poise and eclat. His continuous patter is punctuated with jazzy jargon so particular to musicians and hipsters of the 1960's Beat Generation.
I confess, I feel I'm groping to do justice this frantic, yet smooth mashup of pathos, eloquence, fanciful flight, goosy noodling and posh pontificating laced with genuine affection and the spirit of love and tolerance so celebrated in the heyday of Haight Ashbury. Posey uses King Lear as a motif for the folly of letting vanity trump wisdom in one's twilight years. Ben Bryant is is nimble, charismatic and chock full of gusto. The Passing Show will tickle, intrigue and touch you.
The Ochre House presents The Passing Show, playing from April 12th – May 3rd, 2014. 825 Exposition Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75226. 214-826-6273. ochrehousetheater.com