By Holli Harms

Like a flower slowly opening its petals to reveal its beauty, Rip Tide, the one-person show now playing at Axis Theatre, carefully and beautifully unfolds its story over the course of 60 minutes. It is the story of New York performing artist Edgar Oliver and how he found his home among the lost souls, outcasts, and artists of Avenue A’s The Pyramid Club. Edgar was a young twenty-year-old when he and his sister arrived in New York from their hometown of Savannah, Georgia. He quickly discovered the club that would help “define the East Village drag, gay, punk, and art scenes of the 1980s.” Among the performers who would create their own sound, look, and style at The Pyramid; Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Bunny, and RuPaul.

Edgar shares his becoming of self at the club through words and movement that are a dance of sound, hands, arms, fingers, legs, and tippy toes, carrying us all back to the inside of the past. Back to the 80s and the people who influenced him, the men he almost had sex with, the ones he walked away from, the plays he wrote and performed on stage at The Pyramid, and especially the people who allowed him the freedom to create and encouraged him to continue. His voice is elegant and faraway, floating us through a mystical performance made even more so with three musicians who meticulously enhance the story with both sound and music.

He remembers the drag queens who were innocent and loving. Lying in their arms felt comforting. Growing up in Savannah in the 60s and 70s these things were not allowed. He did not reveal his desires then. He kept them to himself believing he was the only boy who had these feelings, who wanted to have relationships with men.

It is a play of discovery, through memory. Edgar discovers his writing skills – his plays are erotic Greek epics with incredible costumes and sets. He discovers that intimacy is something that does not come easily to him. Though he craves it, it is not something he knows how to fall into. He discovers that he has been hiding in his life. Hiding in plain sight. How does he dare to love another trapped in this hidden cave?

Gently, generously directed by Randy Sharp, Rip Tide is a contemplative poetic evening of a theatrical performance piece that looks back for answers to understand today.

Performances of Rip Tide, a new play written and performed by Edgar Oliver, at Axis Theatre (1 Sheridan Square, Manhattan) WED-SAT at 8 pm with a 60-minute running time.

Rip Tide features original music performed live by former Blondie member and sound designer Paul Carbonara on guitar, Yonatan Gutfeld on Piano, and Samuel Quiggins on Cello, mirrors the strange and complex world of The Pyramid Club and Edgar’s place in it.

The additional creative team for Rip Tide includes Karl Ruckdeschel (costume designer), David Zeffren (lighting designer), Paul Carbonara (sound designer), Regina Betancourt (stage manager), Amy Harper (assistant light designer), Laurie Kilmartin (assistant stage manager), and Brian Barnhart (producing director).

Sixteen performances of Rip Tide will take place October 4–28, 2023 at Axis Theatre, located at 1 Sheridan Square in Manhattan’s West Village. Performances are Wednesday – Saturday at 8 pm. Tickets are $40 for adults, $20 for seniors & students, $10 for artists and those under 30, and free for veterans & active U.S. service members and their families.

Running time is 60 minutes with no intermission.

Tickets can be purchased online HERE