Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Theater review: Bill at The Ochre House in Dallas
Watching Bill unfold through the experiences and frustrations of its three characters, you may feel as though the drugs are permeating your senses as well.
“I dare say if it wasn’t for Joan’s death, I would not be writing.” -- William Burroughs
Don’t get caught unaware. Step into Matt Posey’s private lair The Ochre House on Exposition and realize you’re in for a mind-bending experience. No Dallas stage venue offers more with such pure imagination. Posey shares the tiny, unassuming space, as domicile, workshop and performance venue, with his muse, Walter the dog. You’ve just crossed into their absurd playground, as evocatively vivid a dimension as any medicated state could conjure up.
Under his Balanced Almond auspices, Posey presents Bill (playing through October 2), an original two-act tranche de la vie with three characters and three Bunraku style puppet-masters that make things, as Posey would mutter with a sardonic grin, “interesting.” Bill reveals the strange series of events that may have taken place in one day in the life, circa 1951, of Beat Generation writer William Burroughs, living on the lam with his wife Joan and poet Allen Ginsberg in a murky drug-ridden haze in remote Mexico. It’s before Burroughs’ stellar writing career launches.
“the first person who was famous for things you were supposed to hide” -- John Walters on Burroughs
Do you respond well to hypnosis? Watching Bill unfold through the experiences and frustrations of its three characters, played with lyrical naturalism by Posey, Elizabeth Evans, and Mitchell Parrack, you may feel as though the drugs the Bunraku mainline needle into Burroughs’ arm magically permeate your senses as well. Relax. Enjoy the trip. It’s Posey’s special gift to his audience: genuine artistic transformation. The genius of the piece, besides Posey’s mesmerizing performance as Bill, is the incorporation of the Bunraku puppets. Three adult actors, swathed in Ninja-like black head to toe, operate full-sized puppet lower halves of both Burroughs and Ginsberg.
Any time the two characters cross the stage or exit, they seem to literally drift in drugged out, disembodied fashion. Any time they require a plate of food to appear, or a manuscript, or a gun, these objects simply "float" into existence, while their maddening conversation continues without pause. Posey as Bill drones on like an automaton. Are the play’s scenes actually happening, or are they in his drug and booze-addled mind? Are they part of the audience’s imaginative process? Act Two’s pivotal event is one of the most magical creative moments I’ve seen on a Dallas stage. I won’t spoil the fun. Go live it for yourself.
Pegasus News Content partner - Critical Rant & Rave: Alexandra Bonifield
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