Proudly based in Dallas, Texas Audacity Theatre Lab is a platform for the imaginations of a collective of individual theatre artists. The artists of ATL are empowered to use the company as an outlet for the creation of new theatre projects, be they bold re-imaginings of existing works or the incubation and exploration of completely original works for the stage.
Most of us have a desire to fit in somewhere. In adolescence
we jump through all kinds of hoops in order to fit in but still half the
time we end up isolated. Brad McEntire knows isolation and his
captivating new solo piece, Chop, reveals a lot about of his life in isolation and his eventual arrival as the most crucial man in an odd fetish group.
McEntire says he has two birthdays—one for the day he was born and
the other for the day he woke up to a note from his parents telling him
that they had run off to join the circus. He was thirteen years old. One
of his first lessons in isolation came when he was sent to a West Texas
dust bowl town to stay with his aging hermit uncle. From there he moved
to the city and learned that one can be isolated while being surrounded
by thousands of people. He started working for a temp company. He had
no drive and no ambition. He felt like the Minotaur, abandoned in an
inescapable labyrinth and just waiting for some "hero" to come and put
him out of his misery. But then he befriends the Queen of Nails. She
does a freak show act driving nails into her face. She invites him a
party she's throwing. He's never been to a party. There he meets a
tattooed lady named Rosie and his whole life changes…for the better and
in the oddest way. Ever heard of apotemnophilia? You'll learn all about
it in this show.
McEntire's script is painfully honest. I don't know if it's a true
story or not but if it is…wow! He brings us to the present very slowly
as he describes his lonely childhood and early adulthood and doesn't
really get into the most interesting parts of the story until the end,
but it is well worth the wait. His text is infused with humble desire
and desperation and I found myself rooting for him. I really enjoyed his
interludes of dreams and flashbacks. They helped us see into his mind a
little deeper. McEntire's characters are all very well realized and he
seamlessly transforms from one to the other. He creates a very endearing
character that comes across as genuine. He frequently checked in with
the audience in order to make sure he was connecting with us. I had the
sense that he was really just talking to me—telling me a story. His
director, Andrew Merkel, points him the right direction and made sure he
never forgets the folks sitting in front of him.
Chop is an odd tale of coming into one's own. I enjoyed the
honesty, the endearing delivery and the unique fetish revealed at the
end. They say there's a lid for ever pot. McEntire found his lid though
he would still have to make it fit. Perhaps this show will fit you too.