I didn’t see Cosmicomics under ideal conditions. There was a freezing rain soaking the Lower East Side and I was doped up on organic cough syrup (AKA holistic grain alcohol) while fighting a fever and persistent cough. But I’m a martyr for art and the show must go on!
I sat in my chair and the lights dimmed. My head swam in the medicated ether. In the darkness—as my body alternated between cold sweats and a sharp hacking barks—I let my mind float away on a drunken cloud and into the absurd non sequitur universe of Italo Calvino. I found myself delighted.
Cosmicomics is adapted from a famed collection of short stories by Italo Calvino. The main character is a quantum conundrum: a being/force/membrane/field known as Qfwfq. In existence from the beginning of the universe, Qfwfq narrates us through the Big Bang, the formation of the stars, and the arrival of life. IIdiko Nemeth adapts, directs, and designs the whimsical tale, traversing across the scope of time and space with a singular vision. Cosmicomics sings with humor and beauty at the smallest things amidst the biggest things in the universe, namely its existence. Qfwfq’s loves, worries, and hopes are universal.
The ensemble transform themselves from Big Bang to small piffles. The universal pursuit appears to be a series of un-couplings, couplings, and fights to stay joined. The music is playful and lovely like the shifting backdrops of the universe in freefall, a solitary studio, or a beach party. There were several laugh-out-loud moments as heavenly bodies quarrel for affection and primordial ooze ascends to walking and forms caste systems that express disdain for those who still swim in the muck.
If there was a quanta quibble it would be that Cosmicomics finds universality only in the smallness of things. But what about the universal bigness of things? Granted Nemeth is at the mercy of a devout communist and atheist in Calvino. But is there no room for bigness in art without God? Perhaps this question would forces us down the path of religion certainty or some sort of Californian quasi-spiritual quackery. Perhaps it’s the cough syrup talking. Regardless, Cosmicomics is a fun evening of theatre to see—inebriated or sober, pharmaceutically deranged or dutifully normal. Calvino’s brand of cosmically clever comedy takes us on a fun journey into the stars.
Aurin Squire is an interdisciplinary artist/activist and creator. He has been a resident playwright at Ars Nova, Vital Theatre, and the Lincoln Center labs. Currently he’s the resident playwright at Red Shirt Entertainment and finished serving as dramaturg and associate producer for Red Shirt’s Holocaust Concert series: a collection of plays around Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and the Darfur genocide. He wrote the multimedia film Dreams of Freedom that’s in the permanent archives at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, PA. Dreams won 3 national awards. He served as film festival producer for “Vote It Forward” (VIFF), an online film festival about the 2012 election that handed out $10,000 in prizes to filmmakers around the country. Squire’s play Freefalling premiered at Barrington Stage Company in February 2013, was filmed for Williamstown’s local TV, won the InspiraTO International Play Festival in Toronto, and the New York Catholic Church’s Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light) Award for new plays focused on spirituality. HIs drama “Article 119-1” will be produced in multiple theatres around the world on March 29th. Aurin Squire is in the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship Program at The Juilliard School and lives in New York City.