The Undertaking OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Joshua Bright
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    September 21, 2016
    Closing:
    September 25, 2016

    Theater: BAM Fisher / 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY, 11217

    Synopsis: 

    For the ancients, it was essential: a journey unto the land of the dead as the only means of retrieving something crucial to life. In The Undertaking, writer-director Steve Cosson and theater company The Civilians (Rimbaud in New York, 2016 Winter/Spring) offer a playful and profound 21st-century take on that underworld excursion. Using transcripts of actual conversations with shamen, morticians, philosophers, and mystics as their script, two actors toe the precipice, inhabiting the twilight between being and non-being, transcendent visions with ayahuasca, flirtations with existential dread, and bouts of cosmic bliss. Inventive video and sound contribute to this engrossing attempt to see the unseeable, moving toward the light while illuminating how to live.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Undertaking

    In ‘The Undertaking,’ Considering the End With Some Laughter

    Charles Isherwood

    September 22, 2016: What’s your greatest fear? If you’re a normal, neurotic New Yorker, it’s probably the big inevitable: death. Some theatrical therapy for this eternal anxiety, the nagging 4-in-the-morning jitters about — poof! — not being around anymore, can be found in “The Undertaking,” the thought-provoking new project from the Civilians. Written and directed by Steve Cosson, in collaboration with Jessica Mitrani, the show is being presented through Sunday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Fishman Space as part of the Next Wave Festival. Morbidly funny, and sometimes just plain morbid, the show is constructed like many Civilians productions, as a collage of testimonials drawn from interviews with real people, in this case people with a particular point of view on, or relationship with, mortality.

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