About 300 Savannahians were lucky enough to hear Edgar Oliver at The Unchained Tour last month. He told an unusually lighthearted (for him) story of screwing up his duties at Benedictine Military School.
But many of Oliver’s stories aren’t so light: the Savannah that he inhabited with his mother and sister shaped — some might say warped — him in wondrous ways.
Now the cult performer is getting wider acclaim than ever before for his current one-man show Helen & Edgar, now playing at Theatre 80 in the East Village.
Helen & Edgar, produced by The Moth founder George Dawes Green and directed by Catherine Burns, got a rave review from Ben Brantley of the New York Times: At Home in a House of Horrors.
From the review:
Iâ€™m choosing not to provide too many details. You need to hear and see them as they are spun out by Mr. Oliver, who, when he performs, seems to be all eyes (alert, alarmed, prayerful) and hands (fluttering, clasping, beseeching). Like certain figures drawn by Edward Gorey, he has the carriage of a drooping lily.
There is something Victorian, as well as Gothic, about his presence â€” and his sentimental embrace of darkness. As was evident in his earlier â€œEast 10th Street: Self Portrait With Empty House,â€ staged in New York three years ago, Mr. Oliver has made pets of the ghosts of loneliness, fearfulness and loss that most of us do our best to keep at bay.
By the way, projections of Louise Oliverâ€™s sketches and paintings are shown during â€œHelen & Edgar,â€ cityscapes and portraits drawn with the shimmering bluntness of an eternally untutored child. Mr. Oliver says he feels that there is â€œan innocence to motherâ€™s work that is like a form of revelation.â€ Forms of revelation obviously run in the family.
Here’s the promo video: