Remember back in your halcyon pre-teen days when you were sent to some mosquito-infested summer camp and had to write and perform a skit with your cabin mates at the session’s “last” campfire, to show off how much fun you’d had? You didn’t have time or incentive to perfect the humor or script, devise believable costumes or sets. Your goal became to come up with something utterly outrageous and preferably gross, focused on body parts and/or functions, and included unrelated pop/rock music on a cassette player for background noise. Something that might tick off the wholesome, early-rising powers-that-were, a twinge of incipient anarchy?
That’s what Ochre House’s current production of Coppertone III: Asylum feels like. It consists of two sets (not well-defined enough to be acts) of loosely-at-best scripted skit, with crammed together whiffs of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Mommy Dearest and Rocky Horror informing the tone through Bunraku-style puppets. The full house opening night audience came prepared to roar with laughter at the lowbrow, kinda lame humor and got a bellyful. A rubber vagina painted to look burned to a crisp: such savory, sinful, funny, yummy good times.
Coppertone III: Asylum doesn’t offer the dimensional characters or stylized artistry of Matt Posey’s Coppertone II: The Pope of Chilitown, almost a parody of August Wilson, presented earlier this year. It’s not even remotely in the same league as Posey’s 14 Death Defying Acts: An Autopsy of Hunter S. Thompson, his superlative nihilistic absurdist portrayal of the bastard daddy of narrative “gonzo” journalism. But my guess is that the Coppertone III: Asylum audience would come out of the Thompson piece with a stress headache, feeling like they’d been slipped a bad Cosmo at the latest trendy restaurant and wondering what it was all about. They had a really good time watching Posey’s current show; who am I to buck mass appeal? Just look at what presumes to be arts entertainment on television, with huge, loyal audiences. Go to.
I describe this play as “Coppertone Light”, as satisfying as Coors Light. Ochre House performers Josh Jordan, Trenton Stephenson and Elizabeth Evans are okay, I guess. When they learn their lines enough to close the gaping pauses hamstringing the dialogue, the play’s lack of depth, humor and commentary won’t be so obvious. I sure miss Xander Aulson’s, Walter Hardts’ and Anastasia Munoz’s spot-on performances from the earlier production. Trenton Stephenson reprised his earlier role minus its zany physical energy. Matthew Posey’s torchy rendition of “What Kind of Fool Am I” pales in comparison to his gut-splitting performance of “My Way” in the previous show. Sequels never quite have the “zing” of originals.
Enjoy Coppertone III: Asylum for what it is. Shakespeare it ain’t, but then it isn’t the grossly overpriced third string touring show of Legally Blonde, either. Support local theatre, particularly if it’s not performed in a huge glass and concrete box with preferred parking for Lexus cars….
The Ochre House’s Coppertone III: Asylum rolls out its version of bedlam through September 19, Wednesdays through Saturdays. It’s at 825 Exposition, just down from the Amsterdam Bar and around the corner from the Meridian, two grungy, delightful watering holes. Many more choices beyond Coors Light.
Call for tickets: 214-542-8931.