Regular patrons of the Ottawa Fringe know that there are two storytelling legends you pretty much always need to see should they happen to grace our city with their presence (and, luckily for us, they usually do): Jem Rolls and Martin Dockery. You can read our reviews of both Jem’s work and Martin’s work so far in our experience, but Dockery’s Delirium has yet to be reviewed by any one here at the New Ottawa Critics. And while it’s probably no surprise to any friend of the Fringe that tickets to this show are going to be a hot commodity, I do have to say that Delirium has to be some of Dockery’s best work that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.

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This picture is pretty great. Pictured: Martin Dockery; Photography by Bill Kennedy

The piece is constructed in a very classic ‘Martin Dockery’ style (are we at the point where we can call it ‘Dockerean’ yet?) where a series of seemingly unrelated stories are linked together by the unlikeliest of metaphors that don’t really make any sense at the time until you get to the very end of the show where Dockery straight up falcon punches you in the heart. I don’t want to give away too much of the story because the effectiveness of the piece really relies on the viewer not knowing anything, but I will say that it’s got a little romance, a ton of humour and will absolutely make you cry.

Dockery has this astounding ability to seize his audience’s attention from the word ‘go’ and never lets go, not once, for the entire 60 minutes. He takes you on these massive journeys that span time and geographical space and you can see the effort he puts into making sure every last viewer is along for the ride. Delirium in particular is a significant emotional pilgrimage for Dockery as he reflects on the transience of life, the meaning of love, the indifference of the universe, and death itself (all in an hour, I know!) while throwing his own heart on the stage, as it were. Again, without giving too much away, there’s a moment where Dockery enacts a particularly tragic event on stage and you can literally feel everyone in the room crying (or at least feel the hearts breaking). I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a mass catharsis, or keening, such as this but it was pretty incredible.

The one thing that really gets me, personally, is Dockery’s poignant description of the experience of death itself- that is, watching and/or being around someone who’s dying or already passed. The way that you can just feel their soul leaving this earth is really indescribable unless you’ve gone through it. It’s probably the most visceral thing you can feel as a human being. I can tell you that I will never ever forget the experience of crawling into the hospital bed with my mother, who had passed away a mere 20 minutes before my family and I had arrived at Princess Margaret Hospital for a Thanksgiving visit, and feeling the warmth leaving her body. It’s really hard for me to extrapolate too much on at this point, only because I don’t think the Ministry of Coffee (who have been such a gracious host to me and my review writing this past week) would appreciate a sobbing, blubbering mess in their cafe. In any case, Delirium presents such an authentic emotional experience on stage that leads its audience to a great moment of catharsis where Dockery ultimately concludes on a hopeful and uplifting note.

I have seen a number of Dockery’s works now and I can say with some confidence that Delirium is my new favourite (sorry The Bike Trip!). It’s deeply personal yet reflective of the human experience as a whole and seemingly transcends the confines of a traditional one-man show. This is another show where you’ll want to get your tickets early not only because of the limited seating at Live! On Elgin but also because it only has three shows left. Not to be missed!


Created and Performed by Martin Dockery

BYOV A: Live! On Elgin

Friday June 16 @ 7:00pm

Saturday June 17 @ 7:00 pm

Sunday June 18 @ 1:00pm


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