East 10th Street

This article is from 2009.

East 10th Street

Edgar Oliver has had enough nightmare neighbours to write the script. So, with typical New York gumption, that’s exactly what he did. The result is East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House, a humorous, fantastical portrait of his life, lived in a rooming house among a motley crew of lunatics, criminals, transvestite prostitutes, ghosts, a dwarf cabalist and a Nazi in hiding.

It all began several decades ago when Oliver, a wide-eyed writer from Georgia, arrived in New York City. 'I was walking through the East Village when a gnarled hand put an advert in a window which said "Room for Rent"' says Oliver, who today is sitting in that very same one-room apartment.

Despite death threats and several serious attempts on his life, he stayed put. 'One by one the neighbours were carted off to insane asylums and old people’s homes so that it’s just me left in the building,' says Oliver.

At its heart the piece, which comes direct from a sell-out off-Broadway run, is a portrait of old New York, before Zero Tolerance and gentrification, and the life of one of its most colourful, beloved inhabitants. 'It was never dull around here,' says Oliver wistfully.

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, 7–16 & 24 Aug (not 10), times vary, £14–£16 (£10–£11). Preview 6 Aug, £10 (£5).

East 10th Street

  • 3 stars

NYC theatre icon Edgar Oliver weaves a fantastical and hilarious voyage through an East Village tenement building inhabited by dwarfs, cabalists and possible Nazis! 'A living work of theater all by himself' (New York Times).

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