Doom McCoy and the Death Nugget Is a Brief, Bizarre Ride

Count on actor-writer-director-puppeteer and Ochre House regular Justin Locklear to bring his unique brand of weirdness to Doom McCoy and the Death Nugget, his original student-acted production (from an idea by Thomas Riccio) now at UTD's University Theatre.

Locklear has reinvented a few tall tales of the Old West using Bunraku, rod puppets (created by the students), video of miniature puppets, shadow puppetry, voice acting and clips of Eastwood flicks, as well as other tasty diversions. This show packs a lot of artistry and theatrical surprises into 60 minutes.

It's fun to watch how Doom McCoy keeps shifting focus and size in all sorts of painterly ways. On a sprawling set by designer Bryan Wofford, one minute Doom is a tall figure operated by a couple of black-clad puppeteers (the students do marvelous work throughout), then he's a little 6-incher popping around on a miniature stage visible only on a big video screen. Doom moseys through town to some saloons (a clever visual effect gives the illusion of Doom's stroll, fights with a gambler, visits a brothel that might be the portal to hell and finds himself lost in time on his way back to his ranch. Everything stops for an interlude that allows five actors wearing horse-head masks to offer short, poetic meditations on what it means to be a horse, while a narrator stage-right strikes gymnastic poses as he says "horse."

Giddyap, Mr. Locklear. We enjoyed this brief, bizarre ride.

Doom McCoy and the Death Nugget continues through February 28 at the University Theatre, University of Texas at Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Road, Richardson; tickets $15 at the door, or call 972-883-2552.

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