Ochre House Actors Take Wild Ride In Morphing

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.

Make Eugene O'Neill's drama Long Day's Journey into Night into a knockabout comedy? Who in their right mind would try that?

Matthew Posey would. He's doing it now with his Balanced Almond acting company at the Ochre House theater (which is also Posey's Fair Park storefront loft). Posey's latest dark comedy, Morphing, is a two-act version of O'Neill's four-act play.

This time with video. And funny wigs. And a puppet prostitute named Rosie.

Morphing works as comedy and as avant garde theater because of the total commitment of its cast: Posey in the lead as James, a retired actor and balloon factory worker; Justin Locklear as morphine-addicted wife Mary; Kevin Grammer as Boo, the grandpa and only family member who doesn't seem nuts; Trenton Stephenson and Mitchell Parrack as the sons; and Elizabeth Evans as Bridgette the maid and as puppeteer for the big foam slag. They're a wonderful ensemble, finding strangely moving moments of deep emotion even in the broadest comedy scenes.

The play has jokes and sight gags, but beyond that it's a study in the poisonous effects of nostalgia on a troubled family. Sometimes it's best not to relive the past around the dinner table - especially when Mother's on the brink of another breakdown.

With original music and liberal use of video (the show starts with the family in the car, riding back from a sanitarium), Morphing is a fun mixed media send-up of one of theater's biggest downer plays.

Morphing continues through September 17 at The Ochre House. Tickets are $15 and include beverages. Labor Day is pay-what-you-can night for the show. Curtain time, 8:15 p.m. Call 214-826-6273.

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