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The most mind-blowing theater this June is in New Jersey

By David Cote

As reported earlier this month, there will be a surprising number of experimental and refreshingly offbeat plays to choose from this summer. That makes me happy—especially since I’ll have the chance to catch up on shows I missed the first time around, such as Small Mouth Sounds and Men on Boats. 

But there’s weird, and then there’s Romeo Castellucci. The nightmare-inducing Italian auteur is back at his East Coast home: Montclair State University. You’d think that the visionary Castellucci would be showcased at BAM or in Lincoln Center Festival, but he’s loyal to impresario extraordinaire Jedidiah Wheeler, who runs the exceptional Peak Performances series at MSU. It’s been three years since Castellucci last visited New Jersey with his brief but shattering mediation on death, fathers, iconography and suffering, On the Concept of the Face Regarding the Son of God.

Sounds like Castellucci hasn’t lost his fascination with religion: Go Down, Moses was inspired by the Biblical Moses, the Faulkner novel of the same name and Freudian theory. Playing June 9-12, the new piece sounds like a typical Castellucci affair: indelible dream-state images that sear themselves onto your brain, connected by primal, unconscious logic. As the press release tantalizingly describes: “A woman bleeds profusely inside a locked toilet cubicle; the stage, enveloped in fog, emits a deafening roar, subsiding to reveal a dumpster that contains a screaming baby in a plastic garbage bag. An inspector, attended by police and a nurse, struggle to discover the motive for this crime. An MRI draws the woman towards an ancient world of prehistoric people, huddled as a primeval tribe within the sheltering caves.” If you enjoy the visually stunning work of Roberts Wilson or Lepage, you have to see Castellucci’s exquisitely crafted, harrowing visions of humanity locked in a battle with primordial forces.

Performances are June 9 and 10 at 7:30 pm; June 11 at 8 pm; and June 12 at 3 pm. The Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University is located at 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey 07043. Tickets are $20, and are available at the box office, online or by calling 973-655-6112.

If you’re coming from NYC and don’t have a car, not to worry: Charter bus service is provided from New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal arcade on 41st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues to the Alexander Kasser Theater ($10 per person, round trip) for all Saturday and Sunday performances. Bus reservations may be made by calling 973-655-5112 or online.

Need more convincing? Check out the trailer:

TRAILER - Go down, Moses by Romeo Castellucci from Peak Performances on Vimeo.


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