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Paul Swan is Dead and Gone

From 6 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Great writing, Ambitious, Enchanting, Entertaining

About the show

This world premiere from The Civilians offers a small audience an intimate, immersive experience, recreating the salons of Paul Swan, a bisexual/gay, multi-disciplinary artist. More…

While Swan never achieved the recognition he desired as a modern Renaissance man (painter, sculptor, poet, dancer, etc.), he achieved a different kind of fame, largely through weekly salons. Those held in his studio atop Carnegie Hall, every Saturday from the 1930’s through the 60’s. As the years progressed (and as Swan added layers of pancake make-up and black shoe polish), the tragic, the camp, and the sublime intertwined to create his greatest artwork–himself. Playwright Claire Kiechel has a personal stake in Paul Swan; he is her great-great uncle.

And in "Paul Swan is Dead and Gone," she resurrects her ancestor’s salon and re-imagines it as an electrically charged theatrical space where the forces of life, death, and art do battle. 

Member Reviews (6)


Great acting, Great writing, Ambitious, Enchanting, Entertaining
Avg Score

Great acting, Ambitious, Entertaining

See it if you like your camp served up with a healthy dose of avant garde pretentions. You like great acting. You like shows in unusual spaces.

Don't see it if if you want pure camp or a show with a lot of pathos. It is smart and often very funny but it doesn't quite add up to much.

Also I'm not sure I completely understood this piece. One of the characters... Read more Read less

Quirky, Edgy, Enchanting, Ambitious

See it if if you are interested in the early 20Th Century avant garde culture

Don't see it if if you are a homophobe or easily bored

Great writing, Resonant, Must see, Thought-provoking, Clever

See it if you're down to contemplate your own mortality (and also absurdity) in an oh so intimate space

Don't see it if you'd rather watch a "play" play in a "theater" theater

Also the music, acting, and WRITING are killer. this piece has a heart and ... Read more Read less

Exquisite, Great acting, Delightful, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You want to be dazzled. Paul Swan is Dead and Gone hurtles you back into the last century & forces you to confront the possibilities of camp

Don't see it if You are wedded to realism.

Great acting, Resonant, Profound, Great writing, Enchanting

See it if you want something pretty radical and unique. Super cool ideas and performances. It’ll stay on your mind and give you plenty to talk about.

Don't see it if You want conventional, easy, passive theater.

Must see, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining, Enchanting

See it if So entertaining. Performances are all excellent, especially Mr. Torn and Mr. Johanson. Beautiful writing, witty/wise and heartbreaking.

Don't see it if You feel uncomfortable watching theater or performers in an intimate setting.

Also The show celebrates camp through wonderful humor and wit, and it's son... Read more Read less

May 1st, 2019
“It’s certainly not a conventional drama, any more than the real Paul Swan was a conventional artist...And though the fearless actor Torn doesn’t stint on the theatrics, his incarnation of Swan never quite comes to life...Though the monologues Kiechel has given him feel believable enough, there i...
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May 3rd, 2019
“Kiechel’s script tries to move us from seeing Swan as an absurdity to considering him a great man...But the play doesn’t quite make the intended turn...Torn excels at seeming defenseless...Were the whole production played at this nerve-quivering pitch, the wryness might have resolved into someth...
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May 3rd, 2019
“In her charmingly eccentric but frustratingly slack play, Claire Kiechel summons her real-life great-granduncle, Paul Swan...Reality and memory are slippery for the aging diva. Likewise, the play, directed by Steve Cosson for the Civilians, never gets a sure grip on what it’s trying to do—althou...
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May 13th, 2019
“A fairly chaotic affair, an evening of alarms and excursions that doesn't do nearly enough to get inside the head of this professional eccentric. The script tries, rather uncertainly, to play him for laughs, aiming for camp hilarity but lacking the grasp of comic detail that would make Swan amus...
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Cast & Creatives (3)