Sharp Critic : Christopher Soden

Insightful theatre critique

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Ochre House’s Doom McCoy, a deadpan, delirious delight

Christopher Soden
February 23, 2019
Doom McCoy poster

From the beginning, Doom McCoy was a figure of legend and enigma. Born in the midst of a cyclone (or a tornado?) he was left an orphan after the catastrophe took his parents’ lives. Just like Harry Potter, Doom has no knowledge of his mom and dad, but a reputation that proceeds him. He’s very generous hearted, if a bit slow. He has a sweet (but not too) wife and a rambunctious boy and a girl. We accompany Doom on his odyssey, whether he’s headed to town, or the saloon, or across a burning desert, or fleeing the grasp of the treacherous. Doom has special powers he has yet to comprehend, so he finds himself in situations that are dangerous, inexplicable, perplexing. Explainable only by the evolved and oracular. He crosses paths with a Gambler, Satan, a Priest, a Medicine Man, an Evil Tycoon.

Director/Playwright Justin Locklear has crafted this metaphysical, satirical, comedic horse opera, with oodles of tropes, borrowing from Spaghetti Westerns, heroic journeys, Zane Grey, John Ford, Sergio Leone and Beck. Doom McCoy is equal parts homage and spoof, honoring the spirit of Cowboy narrative while taking pleasure in wry, understated sport. No one is better at concocting special effects on a dime that those prestidigitators at The Ochre House. Moving backgrounds, rough and tumble horse chases, slow-motion duels and (what I can only explain as) parallel universe incidents seen before our eyes and wrought “cunningly in small.” In Locklear’s script, characters are just as likely to make deconstructive observations (regarding narrative structure or thematic impact) as dialogue that advances the plot. And kudos all over the place, for the chutzpah Locklear took, to make female arch-villains so convivial and poisonous. You might ask, “Is this a step forward, or a step back?” I like to think it’s both.

It’s rare to find theatre where the pleasure and joy a company takes in creating a sublime, memorable experience is so tangible. So formidable. The Ochre House thrives on embracing the strange, the giddy, the ridiculous, the defiantly poetic. Doom McCoy and the Death Nugget isn’t as intense as some of their shows, but needless to say, the best comedy never nudges the audience in the ribs. It’s thoroughly submerged in its own cosmos, with all its jeery-rigged, hallucinatory, subversive, down-the-rabbit-hole glory, and there’s nothing that compares. So much comedy today is hamfisted, clueless and confuses the inane with the absurd. Ochre House understands that a phenomenal play like Waiting for Godot works, not just from gags and shenanigans, but because it resonates with our souls.

The Ochre House presents Doom McCoy and the Death Nugget, playing February 9th-March 2nd, 2019. 825 Exposition Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75226. 214-826-6273.