Kilimanjaro titties, dyslexic pedophiles, and Bo Jackson: The Lackluster Life of Jackson Plotz

By Jesse Sawyer

Jesse Dorst ’06 is staring at you. Or rather, Jackson Plotz, the character played by Dorst, is staring at you. He’s staring at you because, for tonight at least, you are his audience. And he wants you to understand the breadth and depth of the pathetic tragicomedy that is his life. A “lackluster life,” the play informs us, and right now Dorst/Plotz is making sure you get the message. He has just been informed that he is, in no particular order, dyslexic, ADHD-afflicted, generally ‘retarded,’ and a pedophile to boot. The doctor, played by Matty Tucker ’04, is telling this to Jackson in a perfect cadence of cold benevolence. Jackson Plotz can only stare into the audience, at you, in fact, with the helpless quiver of a man whose life is doomed to be the stuff of theatrical whims. He is nine years old.

The Lackluster Life of Jackson Plotz is the second feature performance of Omega Wolf Productions, a Twin Cities comedy troupe made up entirely of current and former Macalester students. Their first, a sketch show, entitled Janet’s Washbucket Fantasy, was well received (“A few people in the audience came because of the posters!”), and they hope the follow-up, a continuous narrative, will further broaden their audience (and maybe make some money).

The play was written by the cast members, all of whom are alums or present members of Mac’s Bad Comedy group. David Jonas ’06 plays the narrator who seems almost to delight in his subject’s miseries, Dorst plays Plotz, and Matty Tucker and Nisse Greenberg ’08 play the supporting roles, which range from homicidal parents to cynical friends to Plotz’ eternal nemesis, the legendary Bo Jackson.

It’s almost sickness-inducing at this point to compare every play with even a hint of post-modern sensibility to the works of Bertolt Brecht, but The Lackluster Life certainly shares Herr Brecht’s sense of self-conscious theater and non-teleological narrative. The central humor (aside from the troupe’s trademark sense of absurdity and perversion) derives from the unenviable position of a man who has no control over his own story, forced through a life of continuing humilities at the hands of an omnipotent narrator. This comedic trope carries with it a dramatic angst that transcends its purely humorous function, however, as we soon empathize with the universal feeling of being trapped in the narratives with which we make sense of our own (more often than not lackluster) lives.

With the majority of the troupe currently dealing with the post-college malaise of adulthood, it’s no surprise that these themes come across so acutely.

Omega Wolf is a troupe on a mission to bring quality comedy to the Twin Cities without the “prohibitive costs of the Guthrie and similar venues,” explained Dorst. “We all feel strongly about the cultural value of comedy, and we’re trying to create a comedic dialogue with shows that don’t cost more than five dollars or so.”

The group estimates that the show, including venue rental, has a budget of about $200, an astonishingly low number for a show of its caliber. “When you consider that this show is easily funnier than the majority of big-budget screen comedies, you start to get a sense of what we’re doing,” Jonas explained.

Dorst added, “People think of comedy and they think of TV and movies. But comedy is best achieved in a live setting. Laughs are like cookies. They’re meant to be shared. Or rather, laughs are like HPV. Sharing is caring.”

Omega Wolf, which currently numbers ten members total, is serious about its continuing role within the Twin Cities scene. With the second-largest number of theater seats in the nation (only NYC tops it), the cities are rife with opportunities for independent theater, with an audience hungering for the kind of truly interesting work that the troupe is offering. “The scene is very stratified right now,” explained Tucker, “People are starting to really appreciate experimental stuff.” The group’s plans for the future include possible 501(c) non-profit status, a radio pilot for Minnesota Public Radio, short videos produced for outlets such as YouTube, and future performances in 2007. With the sharply independent style of its writing and the established comedic talent of their performances, the group seems poised to go as far as their audience is willing to take them, and if this most recent performance is any kind of indication, the life of this troupe should be anything but lackluster.

The Lackluster Life of Jackson Plotz shows tonight, Oct. 20, and tomorrow night, the 21st, 8 p.m. at the Center for Independent Artists, 4137 Bloomington Ave, Minneapolis.

Check out Omega Wolf @ www.myspace.com/omegawolfproductions