This is a review about a show that purports to be about a trip inspired by a book about watching a movie about a trip on which nothing happens. In fact, The Exclusion Zone seems more like it’s about the power of coincidence and serendipity, and the vagaries of the human search for meaning and inspiration in a world that might inherently possess neither. And this review seems more like it’s going to be about a story-teller who could probably talk about paint drying and make it captivating.

This is another auto-biographical solo performance from Martin Dockery, and it is wonderful in all the hand-swirling, human-condition exploring, and enthralling ways we’ve come to know him for. This is a very hard show to do, and I’m glad Dockery was the one to try.

Photography by Bill Kennedy
Photography by Bill Kennedy

A guy talking about a trip he took, because of a book he read, about a movie the author of the book watched, about nothing that seemed to predict an event that hadn’t happened yet. This show explores the impulse that compels us to make statements like “I’m going to make a show about you,” when we encounter things in the world. It wonders what makes this thing inspiring, and the rest phony, contrived, or unremarkable. It self-consciously lives the uncertainty we feel when this creative impulse strikes in ways that don’t fit neatly inside our conception of what art can be, or be about.

I enjoy this sort of challenge. And Dockery explores these big questions with humor and an appropriate level of awe, absent the pretention and certainty that often plague these kinds of explorations. It’s not a traditional story, but it is very well told. If thinking about the way the mind excavates all of culture to make art, this is a show to see. Just remember that all of culture is all of culture, including the things that our culture chooses to dismiss as uninteresting, or ignores entirely.

Wes Babcock


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