On the heels of two recent Poe adaptations (Usher in Fringe NYC and Masque of the Red Death by Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group), the Living Theatre chimes in with what’s easily the unlikeliest Poe work ever to be brought to the stage: Eureka! This prose poem is a treatise on the origin and nature of the universe—not a surprising subject for a writer so obsessed with mortality. (Ironically, the stage version’s author, Hanon Reznikov, passed away before the adaptation was completed, leaving it to be finished by Judith Malina).
The Living is the only theater I can think of that could—or should—take on something like this, and the result is precisely what one would anticipate. Readers are hereby advised: There are no spectators in this production, only participants. The event is a long-form contact improv built around a skeletal structure of text spoken by Poe (Anthony Sisco), assisted by video projections, a fog machine, and live electronic music. The “cast” are really mostly guides who gently lead the “audience” through a cosmic creation ritual. If you have the slightest qualms about dancing, lying on the floor, touching strangers, or vocalizing your deepest prayers for the future, give Eureka! a wide berth. But if you’re into the spirit of the thing, the experience is a highly recommended antidote to the commercial calculation that mars even the fringiest modern theater nowadays.