Drop-Dead Strange

Buzzy enniss and derrick brown make my head hurt. I had high expectations of the eccentric poet/performance artists' newest endeavor, Drop Dead Theatre at Captain Blood's Village Theatre. Maybe poetry mixed with music, comedy, stage magic and dousing each other with whipped cream. I was wrong. It was stranger than weird.

The first movie clip—a kind of Jedi Master talking sock monkey—led directly into Brown and Enniss' intro music, "Thus Spake Zarathustra," and an acoustic song about . . . cheese. The song failed miserably, and Brown exited the stage, leaving a "bewildered" Enniss to explain to the packed house, "I was hoping to ride on Derrick's coattails. Everybody says he has all the talent: Mom, Dad."

It was just another staged gag, but not a pointless one. Brown is a seminal OC artistic figure, regarded nationwide for his performance poetry and locally for his popular band, John Wilkes Kissing Booth. But Enniss has a wild artistic vision of his own, and, as frightening as it seems, this show is the next natural step in the evolution of that vision.

It was performance-art vaudeville from there: a movie clip showed Enniss, in tight red running shorts and a sign around his neck that read "Drop Dad Theatre"—that's "Dad," not "Dead." He jogs from Long Beach to Huntington Beach to promote the show. Befuddled onlookers make comical faces as Enniss passes them, sometimes running in circles around them—literally. It's funnier when you realize he really did run the whole damn way. My migraine started.

Other bits were like good Saturday Night Live sketches, but even then they threw you. Brown broke the streak of cheap gags with his heart-rending poem "Why Amelia Earhart Wanted to Disappear," accompanied by movie footage of World War II bombers and planes crashing, making for the most striking and unique presentation of poetry I've seen. After an interlude with a dancing Buddha on the movie screen, Enniss topped it by reading his own poetry to the tune of . . . a tap dancer. This was followed by a tape of a real wrong number: a woman trying to reach her husband in jail. It was like something by Joe Frank, the gravelly voiced KCRW radio-drama geek, except that this was real.

These two don't just thrive in weirdness—it spins out of them, and you feel compelled to stay and see what happens next. So hand me my ibuprofen. I'm going back.

Drop Dead Theatre at Captain Blood's Village Theatre, 1140 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (714) 592-1153. Sun., 8 & 9:30 p.m. $5.

 
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