Dallas — If you’ve never seen a Matt Posey show at the Ochre House, his latest original creation, The Egg Salesman, is a great way to get your toes wet.
Entering the tiny storefront of Ochre House in the heart of Exposition Park can be a little intimidating. But be brave for this 45-seat space boasts some of the best theater in town.
At the beginning, the gosh-darn cute couple of Marvin (Justin Locklear) and Mary (Marti Etheridge) are fishing with their backs to us. When Mary makes a groan-worthy joke, Marvin takes to the audience over his shoulder with a look that says, “Yep, it’s that kind of show.”
Every character, line and bit is blown up as if to re-coin joie de vivre as joie de theatre. There aren’t any deep meanings lurking beneath the surface, despite what the cigarette girl chorus of Bebe and Barb (Danielle Bondurant and Konnar Hunter) say otherwise. The fun is the seemingly endless ways in which the cast can embellish the otherwise straightforward plot. This includes live underscoring and exuberant songs under the musical direction of Deanna Valone.
Marvin and Mary attend the dog races where they run into their friend CJ (Christopher Dontrell Piper). Their picture perfect relationship runs in stark contrast to his, which is relegated to a phone in his pants. All is not as well as it seems, however, as Marvin has hidden his gambling debts from Mary.
Conveniently, gangster Louie The Fish (Mitchell Parrack) appears with his moll, Appolonia (Cassie Bann). If Marvin can get Louie to stake him some dough on a winning pick, everything will be ducky, as long as Marvin’s boss Mr. Looper (Kevin Grammer) doesn’t catch him.
At the heart of the evening is Justin Locklear who combines the inexplicable comic embellishments of Jerry Lewis with the pressure cooker bewilderment of a Basil Fawlty-era John Cleese. The Gracie to his George is Marti Etheridge who Ginger Rogers-like does everything Locklear does backward and in heels. Their scenes are as fantastic a feat of whipped air as the twisted tornado backdrop painted by Isaac Davies.
The rest of the ensemble has to inflate their characters to cartoonish heights in order to leave these two at a reasonable scale. Piper pines hilariously for his lost love. Parrack picks winning dogs with a system that’s half Groucho Marx and half Honeymooner’s Ralph Cramden. The other significant others played by Bann and Carla Parker take inflating to a whole other level, begging Dolly Parton’s pardon, to be sure.
The evening’s frivolities climax in the kind of low-tech high-effect device that The Ochre House is famous for, proving you don’t need big bucks for big yuks.