Orlando Fringe Review: The Surprise, by Martin Dockery
Martin Dockery isn’t comfortable with the label “storyteller,” yet that’s what he is. Oh, not the sock-puppets-and-kiddies-type of storyteller that he’s sure you imagine when you hear the word; no, Dockery is one of those guys who can pluck one moment out of life’s sprawling randomness and with his keenly stylized delivery, find the meaning in it and shape it into a gem.
Dockery is a longtime Orlando Fringe favorite, one of four traveling storytellers we profiled in last week’s Fringe preview. His offering at this year’s festival tells the story of his discovery that his very repressed father has, upon retiring, remarried and begun a new family. In Vietnam. Without telling anyone. In other words, Dockery has a brand-new set of siblings, and they’re 36 years younger than he is — and half-Vietnamese. This discovery is interwoven with the dawning realization that his relationship is either dissolving or on the point of deepening; neither he nor his girlfriend is sure yet which it will be.
As Dockery expands in his utterly unique voice – by turns raspy, yelpy, growly; half-strangled at points – upon the “epic game of emotional chicken” his father is playing (and which Dockery and his girlfriend are also playing), we realize that the surprise of the sudden half-siblings is not the titular surprise. Rather, the ways people act, their essential unknowability, the unpredictable nature of love – that’s the surprise. That’s always the surprise.