In the Middle of the Ocean
Local Arts Reviews
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., March 2, 2001
In the Middle of the Ocean: A See-Worthy Vessel
through March 3
Running time: 1 hr
Don't be scared, boys and girls, but your uncle Chris is at it again: He thinks that he's some edgy character called Twitchy the Clown, he's wearing greasepaint and he's taking the stage at the Hideout with a band called Fat Kids Screaming. That's the bad news, because we know you don't want your uncle dragging the Alonzo name through the perceived dirt of schizophrenia and beyond. The good news is: He rocks.
Now, Twitchy is a persona that demands a more solid framework for independence. As it is, the character seems merely an excuse for our lead performer to get his various grooves on. Why this is problematic is that the young man onstage, the handsome and slightly crazed fellow (who spins a delightfully rambling story of spurned Camilla, who builds a floating brothel for pirates in the mid-Atlantic and gets involved with a well-hung ghost and eventually follows him to Hell in what winds up as a sort of twisted Greek fable), this Orpheus with a microphone and guitar and keyboard doesn't need any excuses.
The story is sweet and raunchy and just funny enough, and makes for good listening. And it's nice to think that Alonzo is so enamored of storytelling and theatre that he's compelled to embed his compositions in a sort of spoken-word-meets-concept-album format. And maybe in a few years his literary palette will be the equal of his sonic one, and he'll have the text/tune textures paced just right, and then we'll be waiting in long lines to catch him at the Paramount. Currently, though, it's the music that kicks, as they say, the most ass.
It's not mind-blowing music, mind you, not something you've never heard the likes of before; but it's music that shows what good rock & roll can do. The songs are heavy with guitars, the tunes catchy and driving, the lyrics clever and springing naturally from Camilla's strange tale, the genres shifting from punk to funk to power ballad to turbo-pop, and they all sizzle.
Best of all, Alonzo has the voice of a whisky-stained angel. Here he's crooning, he's roaring, he's whispering and he's shrieking, he's unleashing a remarkable range. And you hear it, and realize that he's written all the material, and note the rough charm and confidence with which he works the too-little stage, and it might occur to you: Plant a seed like this, give it enough water and light and food, in a decade or so you'll have a tree like Freddie Mercury.
Right now, that clown-face seed is part of the Pegasus51 theatre group, he's being directed by Maria Aladren and Louis Wells, and he's performing for your enjoyment In the Middle of the Ocean.