Edgar Oliver is a memorable man. I feel as though I could listen to him recite a portion of the phone book and throughout it I would find humor, joy, and sorrow. That’s not to say he has a terribly wide range of vocal inflection, but rather quite the opposite. Somehow he treats every word nearly the same way, with the same great deal of care and dramatics, and yet an entire world opens itself up among the syllables.
In Attorney Street, Oliver’s third solo storytelling show, he explores a new chapter of his life in a new apartment on the Lower East Side after being made to leave the small East Village SRO he’d remained for decades. With this major change, he also tracks other shifts in his life and surroundings: a vacant lot he cherished is now no more, a young boy that awakened desire in him as a child now has a child of his own, and so on.
Any show that begins in full blackout long enough for the elderly patron next to me to start murmuring and glancing at the program with the light of his phone screen is one that is going to pique my interest.
Evening – 1910, a new musical written by Randy Sharp and Paul Carbonara (a former guitarist and music director for Blondie), has many interest-piquing factors. Indeed, it began in the pitch dark. It’s an entirely sung-through musical in a quaint and intimate space (the Axis Theater in the West Village) with a live band. It follows immigrants who arrive in the city in 1910. Some are showgirls at a failing variety show theater on the Bowery who dream of finding more fulfilling work, one is a man who enjoys using his camera. Their lives are interrupted by a rich man who intends to transform the theater into a cinema.