Martin Dockery @ The Spare Room
7:00pm, Fri 11 Feb 2011
Just prior to wandering into The Spare Room, Shelley had asked me why I had picked this show; the main reason was… well, a bit silly. You see, one of the very first Fringe shows I attended (waaaaay back in 1998) was also called Wanderlust – so it was purely name-recognition nostalgia that drove me to select this show. And that’s a little bit silly, because “Wanderlust” would have to be the most popular name for any Fringe piece ever, I reckon – and it was hardly likely to be the same show now, was it?
That, and the fact that the Guide blurb read “a man demands an Epiphany. Any Epiphany at all.” Which was pretty bloody intriguing, too.
Martin Dockery takes to the stage with little fanfare, eyes the fifteen or twenty people in The Spare Room (there’s still no leg room in there), and launches into his four-act monologue. He opens with The Great Story Opener, the introduction he assures us will draw all dinner-party attention to you; he’s travelling through the Sahara with a couple who are waiting for the perfect time to become engaged. Their impending confirmation is used as a springboard for an analysis of his own feelings of love, which are threaded through several stories of his travels through Western Africa.
Wander… Lust. Ah – I get it now.
His tales are, to put it mildly, very entertaining. Starting with his dead-end New York “temp” job, he comes to the realisation that he should be doing the stuff that he was put on Earth to do, rather than just waiting for the “right” time to do it… so he heads over to Africa, gets subjected to dangerously sleazy tourist abuse, survives a horrendous bifurcating explosive illness, inadvertently becomes a beatboxing hero, swims on a land-mine-esque sting-ray-ridden beach, and visits a psycho-sexually charged zoo… all the while trying to understand his current relationship with Megan, and realising the effects of his interactions with Kate.
New Yorker Martin Dockery is a wonderful storyteller, though I have to admit I was a little concerned early on when he appeared to be rapid-firing himself hoarse (a quick swig of water between every act kept that under control, though). His east-coast accent plays with a hippie-esque drawl, and sentences often end with an enticing and lingering question… or a punctuative “maaaaan”. It’s a delicious delivery that has you hanging on every word; and the stories themselves are wonderful little self-contained units, with the “alternate universe” Martin making a regular – and welcome – appearance, as he looks at key decisions that may have significantly changed his life.
Was Wanderlust a perfect show? Well, no – there didn’t seem to be enough cohesion between four acts, though it’s only afterthought that has formed that idea in my mind – I was well impressed with the show upon leaving, despite the somewhat abrupt ending. And, being opening night, the lighting was still… ummm… being workshopped – blaring during quiet bits, dimming for the daytime. But, regardless, Dockery focusses on the idea of doing, rather than just simply being – and that’s a great premise for any show as well-delivered as this.