Derek is a wealthy, ruthless shark that might remind us of Donald Trump or Gordon Gecko, ruining peoples lives for the sake of monetary gain, utterly self-consumed. Early in the show, he and his girlfriend Sloan are in a car crash and he is confronted by a Death Puppet who reminds him that all of life of is over in the blink of an eye, and he has a lot of bad karma to resolve. To remind Derek that Death is always imminent, the Puppet hangs an atomic bomb over him (like The Sword of Damocles) and farts on him as a warning of the possible punishment to come. Derek gets busy, seeking out those he cherishes most, his parents Mimsy and Prescott, his twin sister Poppy and his best friend, Brody, attempting to help them see the light. It isn’t easy. Mimsy and Prescott are only concerned with their upcoming soiree’ and domination hijinks, Poppy is perpetually blissed out on shrooms, and Brody’s only interested in scoring as much tail as possible.
We can always count of The Ochre House for inspired quirkiness, and a lot of heart and authenticity, regardless of content. The songs and music are odd, but alluring, sometimes melancholy and often silly and quite enjoyable. They have an intuitive sense of the theatrical, and they aren’t afraid to take risks. We are always drawn to them because their freshness is a given, we can count on them to intrigue, surprise, confound and sometimes even shock us. It is like visiting the circus on Neptune.
“Blink” is a sincere, clever story of Derek’s redemption, punctuated with songs that give it some substance and pleasure. They may have set the bar too high, because the narrative is a familiar one, and it takes more to do it with originality. The wealthy, cantankerous man has prospered, but lost his soul in the bargain, and must wake up before his soul takes a one-way trip to perdition. The first show I ever saw at The Ochre House was Morphing, a spoof that turned Long Day’s Journey Into Night on its head. It went so far into the weeds it was barely recognizable, but that was what made it so great. Blink has some marvelous touches, and the cast is first rate. Chris Sykes throws himself into every role he plays, with feverish dedication, and he’s delightful to watch. I wish Blink had more of The Ochre House’s subversive strangeness, its defiant love of the unorthodox. I’m not saying optimism (as opposed to the cynical) can’t work, but Blink’s message requires something extraordinary to make it stick. They need to let the goblin out of the basement, even if they keep it on a short leash.
The Ochre House Theater presents Blink playing October 31st – November 21st, 2015. 825 Exposition Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75226. 214-826-6273. www.ochrehousetheater.org