Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey ***

This off-beat “fantasy memoir” by Travis Russ (who also directed) employs three actors who simultaneously portray the reclusive author/illustrator at different stages of life — Phil Gillen as a young man, Aidan Sank in middle age and Andrew Dawson as septuagenarian. Events in Gorey’s life are told in nonlinear order, cued by items discovered in an inventory of Gorey’s Cape Cod home after his death. Considerable time is devoted to Gorey’s close friendship with Balanchine and his devotion to the New York City Ballet. We even get an amusing recreation (by choreographer Katie Proulx) of an excerpt from Balanchine’s ballet PAMTGG, a notorious flop. Gorey’s longtime association with Frank O’Hara is also covered. There are insights into Gorey’s creative process and a raw look at his abiding loneliness. The set by Russ and Carl Vorwerk evokes the clutter of Gorey’s life. John Narun’s projections are an enjoyable addition. A brief scene with a puppet by Elizabeth Ostler is one of the few misfires. There are moments of humor as well as pathos in this amiable production, but little in the way of a narrative arc. The actors are all appealing. My only quibble is that the play assumes a prior knowledge of Gorey’s work and would probably be puzzling to anyone who doesn’t have that. This production by Life Jacket Theatre Co. is running at HERE in SoHo. Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes..

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