Erwin Maas directs NYT Critics' Pick "Posion" on Theatre Row

January 20, 2017

Erwin Maas ’04 directs The New York Times Critics’ Pick Poison at Theatre Row’s Beckett Theater for the American premiere. The show, by Dutch playwright Lot Vekemans, centers on a couple whose marriage fell apart after the death of their child.

This Origin Theatre Company production runs through Dec. 11 and has opened to rave reviews.

“This austere play begins coolly but becomes, ever so slowly, a tear-jerker,” wrote Laura Collins-Hughes for The New York Times. “Emotionally bare, at a few points scraped raw, it is never maudlin.”

“Grief doesn’t make them poets. If anything it limits their powers of expression, closes them off from it for fear of saying the wrong thing," Thomas Burns Scully from Onstage wrote. "It is grippingly real, with all the forced politeness, uncomfortable fumbling for meaning, treading on toes and accidental wounding that entails.”
The “poison” of the play’s title refers to a condition in the ground where the couples’ son has been buried, and from which he will now need to be moved. This unfortunate circumstance is what brings the two parents—played by Michael Laurence and Birgit Huppuch—together after years of separation. As they wait at the cemetery their conversation returns to past events and how they each coped with the tragedy, re-opening wounds that have never fully healed.

Poison is Maas’ third production with Origin Theatre, a New York company dedicated to bringing European works to the American stage. In New York, Maas’ directing work has shown at Atlantic Theater, Cherry Lane Theatre, Ontological Theater, The Connelly Theatre, and HERE Arts Center. He has a strong interest in opera and in adaptation, and has adapted works including The Odyssey, Euripides’ Medea, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan.
Poison will be performed at the Beckett Theater through Dec. 11, 2016. Tickets begin at $65 – $27.50 at the door for rush tickets – and are available here.