Andrew Dawson


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Time Out New York Review


Theater review:

The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey

will surely draw you in

By David Cote

link to Time Out New York review

The men onstage know each other intimately but maintain a respectful, almost shy distance. They range from college-aged to senior citizenry. Yet as they trade observations on childhood, first loves and the pains of growing old, little gestures of affection emerge: a reassuring pat on the shoulder, a hand resting innocently on a knee during a juicy bit of gossip. They might be chatty relatives or an odd trio of roommates. In fact, they are phases of Edward Gorey (1925–2000), the genius illustrator and writer who produced nearly a hundred books over 47 years. Each was meticulously drawn in his signature style of dense cross-hatching, depicting Edwardian gentlemen and neurasthenic feather boa’ed society ladies, plus the occasional menacing urn, smug cat or creeping creature. If, in this fictional portrayal, the man who created that tremulous, midnight realm keeps his own self at arm’s length, it makes sense. “Why be one person when you can be…hundreds?” Gorey 1 (Andrew Dawson) queries. Like Whitman, the camp-gothic bard contained multitudes—and was perfectly happy to be lost in the crowd.

Travis Russ’s lovingly crafted 75-minute play is less concerned with the nitty-gritty of Gorey’s publishing career or his approach to drawing (lots of grumbling and self-criticism) and more with his breezy evasions and elliptical musings on an eccentric, solitary life. A dandyish student at Harvard (his roommate was poet Frank O’Hara), Gorey moved to New York in the 1950s, working in advertising while shopping his weird, cryptic portfolio to magazines. His black-and-white world of tweedy figures and sere landscapes, often captioned with nonsense verse, eventually gained a cult following—a fandom that increased when his art was used in the credit sequence for PBS’s



Never married and self-admittedly asexual, Gorey spent the last 14 years of his life in a rickety ex–sea-captain’s home on Cap Cod. The play, which costars Phil Gillen as a twentyish, moony Gorey and Aidan Sank as the artist in bearded, relatively confident middle years, takes place in an imaginary version of that house, crammed floor to ceiling with all manner of rusty tools or antique toys that Gorey obsessively accumulated. It’s Grey Gardens with a better work ethic. The mood flits gently from whimsical to melancholy and dryly bemused.

For the proud owner of the anthology 


and its sequels,

The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey

is a visit to an old friend who always amuses and sometimes surprises. Newcomers, take care: Gorey’s macabre, intricately detailed universe can addict and overwhelm. The man himself was an object lesson.

Sheen Center (

Off Broadway

). Written and directed Travis Russ. With Andrew Dawson, Phil Gillen, Aidan Sank. Running time: 1hr 15mins. No intermission. Through Jan 14. Click


for full ticket and venue information. 

Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey- The New Yorker

The playwright and director Travis Russ has devised a 

brilliant solution for dramatizing this contradictory and solitary man: three actors, all of 

them excellent and in perfect tune with one another, play the artist simultaneously at three

 different ages, delivering a collective autobiographical monologue, sometimes delightedly

 affirming each other’s accounts, sometimes gently contradicting them.

Read More

America is Hard to See- Life Jacket Theatre

Honored to be a part of the first, developmental reading of Life Jacket Theatre's new and challenging play AMERICA IS HARD TO SEE...

Based on verbatim interviews and archival research, this ground breaking play investigates the lives in and around Miracle Village, a rural community for sex offenders, buried deep in Florida's sugarcane fields.

This uncomfortable and disruptive play tells tough, thoughtful and real stories about darkness, uncertainty and the painful process of healing in small-town America. Seven actors embody over 50 roles including Miracle Village residents, law officials, clergy, and other figures on opposing sides of this controversial community.

For more information,

click here for Life Jacket's website


(c) 2018 Andrew Dawson