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Gorey: The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey

Members say: Clever, Great acting, Absorbing, Quirky, Intelligent

About the show

Life Jacket Theatre Company presents an encore run of this play about author/illustrator Edward Gorey that fuses fact and fiction, and features projections and inventive storytelling.

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This bio-show centers on the enigmatic and endearing artist at different stages of his life over a 50-year period. The play sheds light on his dark imagination, personal demons, and heartbreaking loneliness. The result is a collection of fragmented memories that are lyrical, revealing, and often funny, and help audiences understand the man behind the literary myth.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"The offbeat illustrator proves a rich subject for a play, and writer-director Travis Russ’s 'Gorey,' does his archly kooky world justice...Mr. Russ’s decisive idea is to have three actors portray him at various stages of his life...The three constantly interact with one another, a lovely way to suggest Gorey’s inner questioning and the evolution of his sensibility through the decades." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Russ’s lovingly crafted play is less concerned with the nitty-gritty of Gorey’s publishing career...and more with his breezy evasions and elliptical musings on an eccentric, solitary life...The mood flits gently from whimsical to melancholy and dryly bemused...For the proud owner of the anthology 'Amphigorey' and its sequels, 'Gorey' (handsomely produced by Life Jacket Theatre Company) is a visit to an old friend who always amuses and sometimes surprises." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"An odd, but beguiling, entertainment...Russ, taking an approach that might have pleased his subject, has assembled a series of brief, teasing scenes, into a collage-like portrait...All three actors are at home in their roles, fully convincing us that they represent one personality at different stages of his life...'Gorey' succeeds in bringing the man to life, highlighting his innate strangeness and arguing effectively that it may have been inseparable from a persistent loneliness." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Throughout its 75 minutes at The Sheen Center, it is playful...For the most part, the Gorey stand-ins—starting and finishing each other’s sentences, as directed with ease and amusement by Russ—review his often hermit-like life...Not that much stage time is given over to the odd fellow’s inspirations, executions and grim, if not Grimm, themes...The absence of more discussion feels like a significant lapse." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Russ has combed through journals, interviews and letters creating an entertaining portrait of the creator of classic, droll, macabre books...As sympathetically played by Andrew Dawson, Aiden Sank, and Phil Gillen, all superb, the piece takes us backward and forward in time with cast often sharing the stage and interacting...When one waxes sentimental, the others look on with affection. Memories are corrected and embellished...A grand outing." Full Review

The Observer

"It’s an intriguing lure into the unhinged world of an erratic queer potato, not unlike a friendly invitation from Jack the Ripper to explore a squalid, unlit alley in London after midnight…With three men playing the same role, the play sometimes seems muddled and lacks focus. Still, at 75 minutes with no intermission, it’s an easy-to-take evening about an offbeat individual who could easily be called the American Lewis Carroll that is fascinating enough to make you want to learn more." Full Review

Off Script with Dan Dwyer

"A most pleasant evening...Travis Russ, writer and director, charmingly presents an interpretive drama about the prolific and darkly whimsical genius illustrator through three actors...The bittersweet of Gore’s loneliness lingers long after the performance. Kudos to actors Andrew Dawson, Phil Gillen and Aidan Sank for making the multi-dimensional and enigmatic genius so congruent, so real." Full Review

Front Row Center

for a previous production "Gorey is exposed as a hoarder with seven cats and no libido....The playwright’s biggest gamble is that Gorey is portrayed by three different actors simultaneously...Visually, this trifecta is effective...Intellectually, there are some missed opportunities. With a setup that’s ideal for reflection, we get only a couple tastes of what clever turns there could have been...One man’s muddle is another man’s treasure, and so the evening is full of little gems to discover.” Full Review


for a previous production "Playwright Travis Russ has comprehensively and ingeniously rendered Gorey’s life and career in this affectionate concise dramatization...Mr. Russ also is the director and his staging perfectly complements his writing. The expert placement of the actors combined with the outstanding technical elements achieves a visual liveliness as well as emotional depth...Fantasy and memoir are on dazzling display." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

for a previous production "There are insights into Gorey’s creative process and a raw look at his abiding loneliness…There are moments of humor as well as pathos in this amiable production, but little in the way of a narrative arc. The actors are all appealing. My only quibble is that the play assumes a prior knowledge of Gorey’s work and would probably be puzzling to anyone who doesn’t have that." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

for a previous production “Andrew Dawson, Phil Gillen, and Aiden Sank are not only amazing performers on their own, but in these circumstances they are vital and their talents add so much to the experience...Director and writer Travis Russ deserves his own individualized ovation as well...From the three insanely talented men who perform the show to the intricately designed puppets that emerge for a scene, I was inside Gorey's world—his brain. It felt real, it looked strange, and it was brilliant." Full Review

Let's Talk Off-Broadway

for a previous production "Interweaving is the essence of 'Gorey,' the dense fabric of his life composed of friends, passions, compulsions, creativity, and incidents large and small...The play needs more dramatic tension. There’s wry wit, charm, insight, gossip, illumination and mystery–but no suspense...One thing is missing: Gorey’s drawings...This is a real loss...Still, the play creates a mind expanding full world and I feel glad and lucky to have spent time in that imaginative place." Full Review

Culture Catch

for a previous production "Russ’s play, using a combination of Gorey's own words and the playwright’s reimagining, also fills in the complexities and contradictions, the yearning, loss, and humanity, contained in the space between 'strange' and 'fabulous.' All three actors are excellent separately and together, and play their 'Teds' as discrete parts of a whole, producing a touching production that is charming, warm, and at times melancholy...Gorey fans will enjoy this vision of a life and its art." Full Review

Manhattan With a Twist

for a previous production "This play written and directed by Travis Russ should be at the top of your must-watch list this month. Funny, direct, ugly and beautiful all intertwine to create one of the best examinations of an artist’s life that I’ve seen on stage. It’s never corny, doesn’t take itself too seriously, but there’s no denying that its subtle philosophy and bold approach will have you researching Gorey’s work once the play is done." Full Review

Off Off Online

for a previous production "A delicious observation of a well-lived, if secret, life...Writer and director Travis Russ has crafted an engaging script, assembled a trio of charming and vibrant actors and a production team that bring to life a vision of the artist, brimming with creativity...There is a moment or two near the end where 'Gorey' falters and seems unsure where it should end...For the greater part of the evening, 'Gorey' is smart and cleverly crafted." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

for a previous production “The three men do a fine job of seamlessly transitioning between their actor selves and their respective portrayals of Gorey. Each crafts a characterization that seems to fully lift up the essence of Gorey...The author calls the play a 'fantasy memoir,' and I could not think of a more appropriate classification...As we discover the man behind the myth, we leave the theater with more questions than we anticipated, and isn’t that always the goal?” Full Review


for a previous production "Every one of the actors is excellent in their parts--warm and affable and immediately endearing to the audience...'Gorey' is a play that anyone who is a fan of the artist will likely enjoy. Whilst there is more emphasis on Gorey's possible homosexuality than is strictly documented, the play is well done and incorporates enough facts to make one feel as if they are spending 65 minutes with Gorey himself." Full Review

Plays to See

for a previous production "The audience is taken on a poignant, funny, sometimes dizzying journey through this fascinating, reclusive, and ultimately often tortured life. We learn all at random through the hilarious, wistful, resentful and completely absorbing performances by the three actors...Without giving away the ending, there seems to be two of them, each actually fine...Overall, this is a delicious play about a fascinating man." Full Review

The Artswire Weekly

for a previous production “I am happy to say that whether this is truth or fiction, the entire production of ‘Gorey’ is wonderfully inspired itself...Each actor is quite magnificent, echoing each other every so lightly while keeping an originality all to themselves...Each moment of dialogue and movement is crisp and filled with small bits of magic and wonder...Get down to HERE Arts Center and see this beautifully rich and powerfully sincere 'fantasy memoir' of a fascinating man.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Clever, Delightful, Masterful, Profound, Relevant

See it if you want a show that is about a real person, his life, his thoughts, his talents.

Don't see it if your not interested in learning about a cartoonist or his life.

Captivating, Clever, Delightful, Intelligent

See it if You have a passing knowledge of this man and want to know more. Clever staging--a device that uses three actors to portray Gorey--worked.

Don't see it if You know nothing about Gorey--this doesn't give enough basic information to make it worth your while.

Absorbing, Quirky, Intimate, Great character study

See it if you are interested in Gorey and experiencing the clever way his life is revealed in this production.

Don't see it if you prefer stories and action or if you just don't find Gorey interesting

Enchanting, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if you want to see a thoroughly imagined portrait of a fascinating man done with great skill and heart.

Don't see it if you want larger issues dealt with. This is one man's life.

Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Intimate

See it if you're a Gorey fan or enjoy semi-biographical character studies of odd, lonely artists. The format is odd, but the good acting carries it.

Don't see it if you prefer a standard narrative arc, a broader cast, more exposition to ease into the story, or more action (the show can feel a bit quiet).

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Quirky

See it if you like unusual biographical shows that are poignant and absorbing. Cleverly staged and acted

Don't see it if Edward Gorey is not your cup of tea.

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if you like Edward Gorey's work, are interested in a show about an eccentric artist/author's life, are interested in the life of a gay man

Don't see it if you don't like biopics or intimate venues. It's a charming show, well acted by 3 actors, in a nice, small theater.

Also I wasn't familiar with Gorey's work before seeing it and I still enjoy... Read more Read less

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy an informative and interesting Biographical Show with wonderful acting...very Inventive!

Don't see it if You don't enjoy an inventive smart Show!

Delightful, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if you like good acting and an interesting character. As another reviewer said "the best one man show played by 3 actors"

Don't see it if don't like quirky but fun shows.

Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Cliched

See it if you are a history buff or a Gorey fan.

Don't see it if you like good writing and performances.


See it if Three actors playing the same person is well done. Some interesting nuggets presented. Come well rested and ready to pay close attention.

Don't see it if you want a play with action. It can get a little tedious at times.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Entertaining, Upbeat, Friendly

See it if You're familiar with Gorey's work & comfortable with a light, friendly & well done if uncritical portrait.

Don't see it if You're expecting an in-depth portrait, secret lives or any sort of dramatic bite or great insight.

Also The Secret Lives of Edward Gorey is a pleasant, almost bouncy evening,... Read more Read less

Overrated, Amusing, Shallow

See it if you want to see Gorey talking to himself, while revealing very little about his life, art, or process.

Don't see it if you're looking for a deep exploration of an interesting man.

Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if You're a fan of Edward Gorey's drawings and writing and want to find out more about his life.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in learning more about a creative person.

Insightful, Quirky, Entertaining, Informative, Well cast

See it if U want insight into a quirky & uniquely talented writer & artist. Reminds me of Grey Gardens, though Gorey seems not as dysfunctional & sad

Don't see it if U don't like Gorey's art. Occasionally the young, middle-aged and older Goreys who tell the story and talk among themselves get muddled.

Clever, Great acting, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if An innovative way to do a bio-play, with 3 actors playing the historical figure, this pleases due to superb acting and use of multimedia.

Don't see it if You need *action* in your plays, or you need something to *happen* -- this is an "impressionistic portrait" and not plot-driven

Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if You want to see a portrait of an artist told in an artistic manner. You like whimsical plays. You like biographical plays.

Don't see it if You want a traditional biography play told in chronological order. You prefer more traditional staging & presentation.

Entertaining, Pleasant, Simple, Sweet

See it if you're familiar with Gorey and want to see an intimate take on what he was like as just another human being.

Don't see it if if want to learn a lot about Gorey or see something really exceptional in terms of theatre.

Also Plays like this are a little tough to critique. They don't offend you ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if You would like to see excellent acting in an intimate space with a fascinating subject.

Don't see it if You want more than a superficial look into a very interesting man.

Delightful, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You are a fan of Gorey or not. You want to laugh. You want to hear the life and times of Gorey. You want to be entertained.

Don't see it if You don't like historical plays. You are not interested in his story. You are not a fan of Gorey.

Also I am not familiar with his story but I thought it would be an interest... Read more Read less

Original, Clever, Quirky, Good acting

See it if You enjoy clever story telling with use of animation, a little puppetry & 3 actors playing Gorey at different ages who interact w/each other

Don't see it if You want a lot of action, linear story or in depth plot. Do not expect to leave with much insight into his life and work.

Quirky play about a quirky man., Interesting, but a bit of a jumble., Great set, lighting and projections., Staging is effective, but there's some over-acting., Absorbing throughout.

See it if You enjoy Gorey's work and want an engaging look at the man behind the eccentric drawing/writing. This is enjoyable and non-traditional.

Don't see it if You want linear storytelling, don't like stories about eccentric personalities, are offended by gay themes, never seen any of Gorey's work.

Also You don't HAVE to know about Gorey or his work, but it would be more e... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You are interested in Edward Gorey and enjoy creative staging and impeccable acting.

Don't see it if You don't like biographical shows or plays without a lot of fireworks.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Great character study

See it if you are a creative and curious person

Don't see it if you think Sylvester Stallone is the best choice for chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

Intelligent, Slow

See it if you have a particular interest in Gorey's life.

Don't see it if You think there's a difference between a play and story telling.

Cast & Creatives (11)