“Time is precious and there’s no accounting for it.” So sayeth the writer iconoclast Hunter S. Thompson who suicided at his Colorado retreat on February 20, 2005. Pretty mild comment for a guy who hung out with Hells Angels, was a liberal poster child for the NRA and regularly pissed off the media establishment with his scintillating, irreverent Rolling Stone features (23 years’ worth). Hunter S. Thompson defies pigeonhole categorization from the git-go. Anybody who tries to capture his essence in stage portrayal submits to a freak show funny-house experience from Hell in just trying to keep up with the energy and free associative thought patterns of this mad genius. Hitch a ride with Matthew Posey’s Ochre House production of 14 Death Defying Acts: An Autopsy of Hunter S. Thompson. I dare you to survive it without altering your perception of the universe….
GONZO JOURNALISM: it’s on the books, named in honor of an article Thompson penned in 1970. It’s a narrative journalism style that thrusts a defiant metaphorical finger in the faces of sanitized AP writers everywhere. Subjective experience, slice of life, first person perspective, facts be damned. Let the reader live the experience as the words spill from the writer’s pen. Jump right into the FUBAR mess of it. Thompson handily set the editorial world on edge and booted it right off a cliff. That’s exactly what Matthew Posey’s production accomplishes. And how. Pass me another American Spirit with that tequila shot. The fourth one.
Scene opens with Hunter (Posey) alternating between typing madly on a worn typewriter and searching his hot pillow hotel room for more pills and booze to get lit. He needs to get to LA. He’s joined in short order by three characters: Gonzo, a puffy, pallid version of the writer who looks like he stepped out of an Elvis Presley Convention, post 1970 (Xander Aulson); seedy, smacked out Leach (Kevin Grammer) with his “girlfriend” an inflated rubber titty lady he alternates between mauling, abusing and cooing over; and Juan, Thompson’s real life son (Ross Mackey) who comes attached to a wailing electric guitar and seems oblivious to his dad’s peculiar ways. They cram themselves into a “car” of sorts, with booze and pills a plenty; the road trip to LA ensues, at least in Hunter’s mind. Highway footage upstage projected behind them manifests the travelogue. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that Gonzo and Leach are versions of Hunter, at various life stages and altered states of inebriation or drug-induced madness. Posey as Thompson seduces the mind as he drones gonzo gab non-stop, while manning the wheel. Sometimes the cast changes places in the speeding car when different aspects of Thompson rise to the forefront of chatter. Gonzo journalism as living art. Surely Thompson is leering down from some far-off constellation, fried to the gills, old typewriter at hand, laughing and spitting and cursing his approbation in one foul-mouthed cigarette-stale breath. Ha! If you’re a writer, you’ll go home itching to flick on the computer and not look up for hours. If you’re a boozer or into pills, you’ll stop off on the way home to stock up. If you’re a virgin voyeur, you’ll have a baptism you won’t soon forget. Don’t pray you can escape, once you’ve settled into your seat. Why would you want to? It feels better than first time sex on cocaine and is totally legal. The mood-enhancing music, the off kilter lighting, the relentless, raging voice of Thompson pounding words into your head, best sensually provocative yet literary high in town.
Hunter S. Thompson died at his self-described “fortified compound” known as “Owl Farm” in Woody Creek, Colorado, at 5:42 p.m. on February 20, 2005, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
14 Death Defying Acts: An Autopsy on Hunter S. Thompson
Written, directed and performed by Matthew Posey
Runs through June 27, Wed.-Sat. @ 8:15 PM
THE OCHRE HOUSE
825 Exposition Ave., Dallas TX 75226
TICKETS: $15.00 (cash or check at the door)
FOR TICKET RESERVATIONS: (214) 826-6273; email@example.com
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If this play was even half as good as the writing in this review, I need to see it!
This alone should get an award: “If you’re a writer, you’ll go home itching to flick on the computer and not look up for hours. If you’re a boozer or into pills, you’ll stop off on the way home to stock up. If you’re a virgin voyeur, you’ll have a baptism you won’t soon forget.”