Theater archives

In the Park Manically Enchants with Gruesome, Erotic Brevity


“I think that I died as a child,” muses Edgar Oliver. “Some part of me stopped. But some part of me kept going. I keep on wandering.” As with his previous solo work, In the Park relies heavily on Oliver’s unsettling persona, marked by his inimitable diction, a lilting mélange of Savannah gentleman, queer epicurean, and Euro-ghoul. What makes this Walser-esque daisy chain of pastoral vignettes cohere is Oliver’s perverse enthusiasm: the genuine ecstasy he takes in forbidden or gruesome scenarios, and in glorifying his alienation not just from society, but from his own identity.

There seems no better locale for his signature combination of eroticism, isolation, and aesthetic mania than Prospect Park, in whose decay he revels: “[I]t has this beautiful, desolate, run-down quality . . . as though it’s been left back to fall into ruin.” There he writes, gets lost, and fails to connect with other wanderers. The monologue’s lyricism makes all his obsessions seem equally compelling, whether he’s praising the music that comes over the soundsystem at McDonald’s or contemplating necrophilia. Coming in at less than an hour, the show may seem too short given its far-ranging potential, but as Oliver rhapsodizes, “Longing is the only magic of which we are capable.”