“Numb” — Chris Kaminstein directs Leslie Boles Kraus, Ian Hoch, Shannon Flaherty, Dylan Hunter, Emilie Whelan, Jake Bartush, and William Bowling
WHEN: Thurs.-Fri. (Sept. 29-30), 8 p.m.; Sat. (Oct. 1), 7 p.m. & 10 p.m.
WHERE: Catapult Performance Space (609 St. Ferdinand St.)
TICKETS: $15 general admission, $10 students
INFO: Visit the Facebook event page
I was always bummed I didn’t get “Numb” after interviewing Goat in the Road Productions’ Chris Kaminstein back in 2014 when the theater company presented this examination, so to speak, of all things pain management.
Fortunately, the show is back for an encore performance, relaunching last weekend and, following its run in the Catapult Performance Space (609 St. Ferdinand St.), will hit the road later this fall for a U.S. tour.
The production, which won Big Easy Awards for Best Ensemble, Sound Design (Kyle Sheehan) and Original Work-Devised, is serving to kick off Goat in the Road’s 2016-17 season, though without original cast members Francesca McKenzie and Todd D’Amour (we miss them!). The work takes a look at early 19th century attempts at pain-free surgery, as well as “the ecstasy and intoxication of drugs that alter human consciousness, and the often-forgotten human stories that accompany advancement.”
It was a truly collaborative effort, director Kaminstein told me, in which the company partnered with the Pharmacy Museum as well as the Cachet Artist Residency Program to bring together experts in the field, as varied as Dr. Harry S. Gould, professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at the LSU Pain Mastery Program and a Cajun healer. The inspiration:
Goat in the Road has spent a couple of shows looking back at history to mine for interesting artistic material. One of the things I love realizing (over and over again), is that inventions we take for granted, like getting knocked out for surgery, have human complication attached to them. When nitrous oxide and ether were first being used in dental surgery in the mid-19th century, there was a tremendous battle between three men for the claim of being “first” to try it. Each man, over the course of 10 years or so, was destroyed by this fight in different ways. In “Numb,” you will see the story of Horace Wells, one of the first to try nitrous in dental operations, and his steady decline and eventual addiction to chloroform.
I’m planning to attend this evening’s performance and will share my thoughts soon after. Visit the Goat in the Road website for the rest of the 2016-2017 season.