Storyteller brings us along on search

Martin Dockery stars in Piccolo Spoleto’s “Holy Land Experience.”

Review BY LEAH STACY Special to The Post and Courier

In a society where ideals of romantic love and monogamy are still revered, if not always upheld, Martin Dockery has come to regale Piccolo Spoleto with a story of dishonesty and unfaithfulness: Not really a novel idea in the world of theater, until he reveals it’s his own story and “100 percent true.”

When the phrases, “I can’t be monogamous” and “I made it through one day of a four-month tour before I cheated on my girlfriend,” poured bluntly from Dockery’s lips early in the one-man show on Wednesday night, a few audience members stiffened. Others shifted in their seats or shuffled their beer bottles, laughing nervously.

Until that point, Dockery was bursting with funny anecdotes of detainment at the Canadian border. Maybe this was a joke, as well?

Nope. Still, there’s something about good storytelling, when coupled with a sense of humor, that makes people shut up and listen.

For the next hour, Dockery stood alone on a stage with only a single chair. He slowly sliced open his skin and allowed the audience to see his heart: raw, carnal and desperately searching for something he can believe in (God, love, a girl who is comfortable having “difficult” conversations). His pilgrimage is a wonderful travelogue, really, taking the audience from Canada to Orlando, touching down briefly in Charleston and New York City before landing in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve.

His stories are skillfully woven, unpredictable and visual. After visiting The Holy Land Experience, a theme park in Orlando, Dockery wanted to know more about the land of Jesus Christ. Maybe it’s an odd desire for an adult who spent every childhood Sunday bored in his parents’ Catholic church — or maybe it’s just an obvious step in his search for something to believe in.

And though he “came to the Holy Land with nothing holy in his heart,” Dockery left with an important piece of advice from a weathered, half-insane nomad:

“The strongest human desires are the will to live and love. Love is hope for what’s next.”

Toward the end of the show, Dockery’s voice dropped to a whisper. He seemed far away, perhaps sitting in the dusty West Bank hostel where he met the old traveler.

As he took a final bow, it was clear that Dockery’s search isn’t over. Maybe when it is, he’ll have a truly great story. Maybe next year.

Leah Stacy is a Newhouse School graduate student.