Surprise, Surprise: Dockery is Amazing Again

Wes Babcock


One of three plays written by Martin Dockery at the festival, in The Surprise Dockery tells a masterfully paced and entrancing tale, in such a captivating fashion you wish he would never stop telling his stories. I promise not to ruin the surprise, but in case you were reading this because you’re just wondering whether or not to see this show, I’ll tell you right now. Go.

The fact that the story told in this performance is autobiographical could convince you that Dockery leads a life charmed (some might say cursed) to actually wax and change according to a dramatic arc. Regardless, it proves the man’s arachnid skill by weaving a narrative so compelling from his own experiences that you’ll be hang on his every word until he lets you leave. The script is aptly named as its strategy of introducing new events, characters, and situations relies on a system of call, recall and misdirection tightly bound within the narrative that surprises delightfully as it develops.

Dockery’s physical presence while telling this story brings it to life in just the right combination of mesmerizing and electric. The staging, while straightforward, follows a well-structured path, beginning with Dockery confined to his stool as he sets up the plot, ranging about the stage to recreate the situations encountered on the trip, and returning at the close to the physical place it began. Dockery tells this story with a great command of his pace and physical presence; it is special to watch.

This performance is simply excellent, and while it won’t blow your mind with effects, cultural critique, or wild experiments with the theatrical form, it isn’t trying to, and thank goodness. Because it absolutely will blow your mind as it reminds you that a good story well-told is the origin of performance art for a very good reason that still compels you to pay attention as it pulls you heart-deep into human relationships and their struggle.

You may have noticed that I’ve resorted to an aggressive adjectival campaign in this review. I’ve done so because so rarely have I discovered a show that brought me into its world so entirely as Dockery’s performance here. The critic’s job becomes extravagant and self-indulgent when it deals with things like this; neither of us are here to listen to me talk. The performance of this story is a moment of art. Just go see it while it’s here.

Upcoming Shows: (Venue #5: ODD Box)


June 27 @ 22:00

June 28 @ 21:00