Staging an entire one-man show around the theme of LSD may sound like an unnecessary sequel to Hair. Luckily for audiences at Theatre 99 last night, they found that was not the case.
Martin Dockery has created a 60-minute show loosely based on recreating Swiss scientist Alfred Hofmann’s laboratory discovery of LSD and his subsequent trippy bike ride home. But that plot line is far too simple to convey the performance Dockery puts on. Part spoken word, part stand-up, he races through tongue-twisting monologues, discussing everything from high school dances, trips to India, and loves lost. Dockery’s frantic pace, while at moments Micro Machine Man-esque, completely suits the one-man-show format and manages to keep the audience entirely engaged. This will sound all wrong, but Dockery uses something akin to mime to convey space, setting, time, and sound — but it’s not cliché and he is beret-free. A chair and a bottle of water are his only companions on stage, and yet one could easily see the picture he paints of other characters and landscapes.
The sharp-witted actor calls it like it is, describing couches as the pinnacle of human achievement and making fun of boho, dread-locked white 6-year-olds. He also pokes fun at himself, telling a story about how he nearly starved to death while traveling in India in an effort to spend the least money and one-up his fellow backpackers. When Dockery goes to Switzerland to reenact Hofmann’s LSD-fueled bike ride, he wears a shirt his girlfriend gave him — a perfect replica of the golden crewneck Captain Kirk wore on Star Trek. Since he was boldly going where no man had gone before, he thought the shirt was appropriate but also pretty ridiculous, especially if something happened to him and he was found dead in his Star Trek T.
Dockery somehow takes very random experiences combines them with the world’s strongest psychotropic drug and reminds us all of our need for human connection. While LSD trips along in the background of each vignette, the show is more about overcoming fears. But don’t think The Bike Trip will leave you down in the dumps. It’s funny, moving, and remarkably uplifting.
Piccolo Spoleto. The Bike Trip. $16. June 8 at 8:30 p.m. Theatre 99, 280 Meeting Street (above the Bicycle Shoppe).