Fringe play “Wanderlust – From Here To Timbuktu” had been recommended to me but with 15 minutes to go before it started on Sunday night I couldn’t find the entrance to the Planetarium. Worse, I wasn’t sure I was even at the right building for the 11 p.m. performance.
I walked dejectedly down the street to the Fringe visitor centre in the lobby of the Royal MTC theatre (the one with all the Fringe posters and sandwich boards outside) sure I had missed the performance.
With a quick “You wont be late, I’ll drive you” a Fringe volunteer got me back to the right part of the venue just in time and then a girl in line offered me her extra ticket as the doors were about to close behind me.
What an unexpected and lovely Fringe experience. Big thanks to both of you if you’re reading this.
The Planetarium auditorium seats 230 and was probably two thirds full for the late night performance.
Martin Dockery is a Brooklyn based actor (which explains the cute American accent). He spends most of the year touring his eight one-person shows through Fringe and Storytelling Festivals in Canada, Australia, the UK and the US. He’s won “Best of Fest” awards at more than 11 of them.
He created “Wanderlust” in 2009 and has since performed the unscripted narrative 250 times in cities around the world winning too many awards to list.
The play opens with him on stage sitting on a stool with his water bottle close by. He is wearing jeans and a white t-shirt. Nothing to distract from the bare bones set. His voice, as he tells travel stories, more than makes up for it.
But these aren’t just travel tales; Dockery is described as being “in search of of an epiphany…any epiphany at all” and his stories have a transcendent quality to them.
It’s the realization, “What if this job is not just a job I’m pretending to do” conveyed in horrified tones to his audience that leads him to do a five month solo trek around West Africa. The rambling stories are taken from his adventures during that trip.
How to describe his voice? Besides the accent it also has a gravelly quality and a BIG presence. When he reaches an exciting part in a story you know he’s excited. When he’s at a part in a story when he is really scared, his voice sounds really, really scared.
He draws out the emotions in his stories and prolongs them for what seems like forever. And his hands, they are constantly in motion, gracefully punctuating word pictures for us. He also folds his lanky frame into the stories masterfully.
I could SEE him sleeping on a piece of foam among a herd of goats. I laughed inwardly as he described the convoluted tourist con he was taken by as I had experienced other variations while traveling in Guatemala.
There is a thoughtful, evocative bent to his stories. They remind me that we’re all the same, whether we live in Winnipeg or Timbuktu, the stories celebrate the wonder of it all.