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Matthew Posey Stages A Juicy Slice of Weird in The Butcher

Theater Caps are bite-sized punch-packing capsule reviews by resident theater critic Elaine Liner. Use them as a reminder -- or a teaser, if you procrastinate -- of her full-length reviews in The Mixmaster's weekly sister.

A talking pig opens the show The Butcher, the dark new musical written and directed by and starring Ochre House theater founder Matthew Posey. Talk about a big ham.

Posey's beautifully twisted sense of humor is all over this Kurt Weill-influenced production, starting with that sassy swine (a life-sized puppet voiced and operated by actor Kevin Grammer). But the story gets darker by the minute. In the middle of a famine, a poor Irish butcher, Zach Blut (Posey), and his much-abused wife Gerty (Elizabeth Evans) come into the possession of a black market pig. When a Scottish meat inspector (Grammer again) drops by the shop, they panic and take a cleaver to him. That only spoils the wife's murder-for-hire plan to kill her husband. The hired killers? Blind hobo brothers (Justin Locklear, Mitchell Parrack), who just want a piece of that pork for dinner. What they don't know is that the pig carcass has been talking to Zach, giving him advice, Dr. Phil style, on how to be a better man.

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Live music by a three-piece band, led by the show's composer, guitarist Ross Mackey, keeps up an eerie, throbbing underscore between the big musical numbers. Yes, even on the Ochre House's teeny 10-by-12-foot stage, the five-member cast sings and dances. Even the pig, who in profile looks remarkably like Newt Gingrich, is a bit of a hoofer.

Posey, one of our class of Masterminds last fall, has staged 12 new plays and four new musicals over the past couple of years at the Ochre House. This latest is some of his best work yet. When you go, take a close look at the gorgeous leather vests and sleeves worn by the cast. They were created by costumer Locklear, who took apart a wornout leather club chair he found by the side of the road and turned it into pre-weathered couture for The Butcher.

The Butcher continues through June 4 at the Ochre House. Tickets for all performances are $15 and include intermission beverages. Monday, May 23, is "pay-what-you-can night." Call 214-826-6273.

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