What scares you the most? Vampires? Zombies? Hurricanes? Horror may have a face — a hockey mask, a visor made of human skin, or the horrible burn scars produced by the fires of Hell — or it may be a place, like the Overlook Hotel or the Bermuda Triangle. UglyRhino’s production of “Gowanus ‘73” gives you an interactive tour of the terrifying underworld around the Brooklyn Lyceum thirty years ago: party girls and gangsters, prostitutes and pimps, and the ghosts of human flotsam and jetsam that beat softly against the wooden pilings of the canal’s embankment.
The concept of the show is clever and contemporary. Like Sleep No More, it combines narrative with a decentralized play space that takes full advantage of the spookiness of the old Public Bath No. 7. Brooklyn history buffs will enjoy true tales of horror in a historic space, and the play itself is fast-paced and engaging. Best of all, the company provides three yummy cocktails with the price of admission.
But more importantly, if you are seeing the play tonight — and tonight might be the last time to see it — you are seeing it on All Saints Day. Hallows Eve has passed, and according to popular tradition, the malcontented ghosts of those who died with venial or mortal sins on their heads are no longer allowed to walk among the living. You might ask yourself, why bother? Let sleeping ghosts lie. But 2012 has been an exceptional year for the living and the dead. Hurricane Sandy is, in my experience, the biggest crisis to ever hit New York — bigger than the 2010 Boxing Day Blizzard, bigger than the 2003 blackout, bigger than 9/11. Its economic impact may even be bigger than the twenty-five years of capital flight from 1970 to 1995. Too many ghosts are still here on All Saints Day, and too many of the living walk the streets of the city with no place warm and safe to call home. The only appropriate response to the very real terrors that stalk Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island is to follow the example of the ancient Romans, and propitiate them with food, music, and wine. If you see Gowanus ‘73 — which has all three — you will ease their anxious souls.
I highly recommend it.