Friday, December 4, 2009

On The Dream Express way to your heart

The Dream Express started with the sip of a drink, the wail of a distant train, and a kind of yelping, high-lonesome, tumbleweed song. The Chocolate Factory hosted a "journey to the end of the night" with its upstairs theater marvelously, if tackily, re-purposed as an honest-to-god cabaret for Obie-awardees Steve Mellor ("Spin Milton") and Deirdre O'Connell ("Marlene Milton"), known as, they kept telling us, The Dream Express, along with co-conspirators Len Jenkin (writer/director) and John Kilgore (composer).

At first glance, the formerly-married Miltons--hulking, vaguely surly Spin and slightly tipsy, vaguely slutty Marlene--looked like the kind of people you'd want to keep at arm's length. Please, god, do not let either of them come down off that stage and start messing with us. By the end of the roughly 90 minute act, a mashup of songs and stories, you'll find that you've relaxed. You've chuckled some. You've pondered some. You've learned to trust that Spin will rise from his keyboard, now and again, without actually assaulting anyone. What's more, the Miltons and their consciousness-streamings have managed to work their way under your skin. You've been seduced by Marlene's adorable, gutsy charm and roused by Spin's gusty vocal power. Who else has the skills to segue from Olivia Newton John to "A Whiter Shade of Pale" without inflicting terminal whiplash?

As the Miltons' dearly-departed "Uncle Wolfie" would say, "Make 'em laugh, make 'em cry, make 'em kiss ten bucks goodbye!"

In this case, it's 15 bucks and worth every single penny. Go see The Dream Express at The Chocolate Factory, Tuesdays-Saturdays  through December 19 (No performances 12/15-17). For details, travel directions and ticketing, click here.

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