Pigeon Man Apocalypse

Presented by Act Provocateur International

Pigeon Man Apocalypse is a solo drama that takes an unflinching though darkly humorous look at the devastating consequences of child abuse. Written by award-winning American playwright William Whitehurst and directed by company founder Victor Sobchak, the show is performed by company co-founder and principal actor Andy McQuade, who was himself a victim of child abuse so terrible he was ultimately driven to bury an ax in his own father’s head. In taking on this role, McQuade confronted demons buried for twenty-six years both on the stage as the character Arthur Cork and in real life when he confessed publicly for the first time in a Times of London interview. (He has subsequently been offered a book contract to tell the story of his life) This collision between theatrical imagination and an actor’s biography led to an Edinburgh fringe production that the Times of London called “raw, livid” and “utterly mesmeric.” Other reactions included “engaging and confrontational” (One4Review); “fierce insanity superbly acted” (Three Weeks) and a “brilliant play, an outstanding performance and definitely a must” (scene4magazine). For director, writer and actor alike, it has been a harrowing journey both emotionally and creatively but one that we feel is worth it if we can shine some light on this dark corner of human existence.

Audience reviews

Average audience review: 4.5 stars

5 stars
"Transcendent" by Leah Cooper:
This was my one random leap of the evening as I was on the West Bank anyway. If I'd read the show description I might have been scared off because I have seen about 100 too many shows that romanticize mental illness and exploit stories of abuse. Don't let the show description scare you off. This is just damn good theater. Yes, it's disturbing, like a nightmare that leaves you punch-drunk with adrenaline. But it's inspiring as hell, like any good flying dream that liberates you. Solid writing and death-defying, transcendent acting. A mesmerizing revelation beginning to end.

5 stars
"Riveting!" by Don Kern:
This is a fascinating piece of theater. The writing, direction, and staging are all superb. And the subject matter (child abuse and its aftermath) is something with which we are all familiar. The main reason to see this show, however, is the acting. I saw the show friday night, and Andy McQuade was brilliant. The audience was mesmerized as he took us on a harrowing ride through the dark, violent world of Arthur Cork. The sheer physicality and intensity of his performance kept me on the edge of my seat. There were some funny moments, even a glimmer of hope. McQuade's Cork displayed the resilience that propels us forward through the worst parts of life, while at the same time fully occupying that dark place from which we manage to create hell. Hard to watch at times, but impossible to turn away from. If you like theater that takes an unflinching look at "civilized" society's dirty little secrets, SEE THIS SHOW.

5 stars
"Made me terribly uncomfortable - good job!" by Chani Ninneman:
When you gasp in the first three seconds of the show, you're off to a good start. There were a few moments near the beginning that I might not have followed, but other than that I was COMPLETELY hooked. And his performance of the material was brilliant all the way through. Fantastic sound and light design - both very precisely executed. Stick with it even if you think you can't - it's well worth it!

5 stars
"Debut Review" by Lucy DeSilva:
Ok, let's shoot... I'm NOT a huge theater fan so maybe I don't have the credits to write a review, but what the hell -I know a great piece of literature when I read it and have probably seen every film worth watching at least three times (read: 10 times if it's David Lynch). And on that note, why in hell isn't Andy McQuade working with David Lynch??? He simply took that stage over and for the first time in my life whilst watching theater, I was transported. Every subtle and not-so-subtle shift of the various characters and emotions was dazzling to behold. I am stunned that the guy above says he knew what was coming. So goddam what? Big deal. Every one knows what's coming in every Shakespeare play, but it doesn't stop you going! I found the writing to be totally wired and 'up there' -the weirdness of the prose was like a non-stop rush of images and concepts I'd never come across before -but like I say, I usually avoid theater as it invariably bores the hell out of me. I'm going to check out more shows here at the fringe as a result -if I get to see 1 or maybe 2 more shows like Pigeon Man I'll be a convert. note to the production: you gave me the WEIRDEST dreams that night! Ahhh...not sure I should be thanking you for that...

5 stars
"Prepare for shellshock from this harrowing script & electrifying performeance" by Florence Brammer:
I was so deeply affected by this show that I could hardly move when the lights went up. Possibly the best Fringe show I've EVER seen, any year. The acting, the script, the staging, the sound, the light -- everything was incredible. Truly special and absolutely not to be missed.

5 stars
"ever wonder what a play should do?" by john wilson:
Drama can purge the soul of particular and collective perils of childhood: this show attempts to do just that. If you go and open yourself to the fine acting and the powerful energy of this show, you may find yourself cleansed, or at least cracked open. DO NOT MISS.

4.5 stars
""Pigeon Man" is strong, intense theatre" by Hazen Markoe:
Act Provocateur International paints a powerful and disturbing portait of a vagabond, whose life is horribly damaged by the child abuse he suffered. Andy McQuade commands the stage in this extremely intense one-man show. While this is a show is not for everybody, it definitely leaves its mark.

4.5 stars
"quality" by Starr Ahrens:
Great to finally see the show I had heard great things about in Des Moines. Reading the description here on the website after seeing the show is pretty intense. Clearly those life experiences have infected the text and provided enormous depth.

4.5 stars
"Definitely worthwhile if you can handle it" by August Berkshire:
Dark, brooding, disturbing, compelling, and edgy. You should see one show like this in every Fringe festival, and this is the one to see this year. I heard they were not at their best on opening night, but the second performance, which I saw, was very good. Their last show is Tuesday, then they leave for the New York Fringe. Catch the Pigeon Man if you can.

4.5 stars
"deliciously raw" by Brian Watson-Jones:
Almost every facet of the Pigeon Man's story is horrifying; child abuse, murder, the sad disconnect between his reality and the world's. And while many of the story's details have been repeated by newspaper stories and big-budget horror films to the point of becoming cliches, they never feel anything but real in this show. It might be because of the actor's close connection to the story (it isn't autobiographical, but as the description states, there are many close parallels), but I feel it's more likely because the Pigeon Man feels so real and complete. He's an actual person up there- a horribly, bitterly broken person, who found his own reality and is relatively happy there. If only the outside world, real or imagined, would stop intruding. What's most striking about him is how wonderful and pure his dreams are; it's such a simple thing to wish to have wings and fly away from this life, and so beautiful to see this desire etched in his face. See this show, and sit close enough to see the emotions glimmer in Andy McQuade's eyes- it's so raw and real that you almost don't need to hear the words.

4.5 stars
"Some undeniable moments in this beautifully schizophrenic work." by Matt Weerts:
I am not an experienced reviewer, so I dont know whether to start with the good news or the bad news. I guess I will just start at the beginning of the play. Actually before the beginning, when the playwright gave a needed speech about the bridge going down (almost within eyeshot of the bedlam) and another disclaimer about allowing people to come in late because of the traffic problem caused by the bridge. So the difficulty was that a brilliant show beginning (that I wont give away) was somewhat distilled by the fact that the show began literally two seconds after the playwright left the stage. Another problem was that the incredibly dense play starts off running, which left me a bit lost for the first couple minutes. Once I got my bearings though, this was one hell of a play. I dont want to give much away, but I will say that it includes more characters and side roads than one would expect from a one-man show, including a touching love story sequence. The acting and writing are superb, as good as we can expect to see at this festival, with a turn by the lead actor that can only be called a revelation. He changed characters not only with his phyisicality but also a shifting dialect that left no doubt as to who was doing the talking, quite a feat considering the script. This script demanded an actor of this quality, and the playwright and lead are lucky to have found each other, as they find moments together in this play that reveal why it is I go to the theater. During those moments, Pigeon Man Apocalypse was not entertainment, it was a statement. Now to the problems, which, I want to stress, were minimal and not completely the fault of the production. I lost some lines due to a raging air conditioner, an easy fix, but nonetheless something that bothered me, and the lack of scene breaks left a need for us to depend on lighting and blocking to mark shifts in the story, which was done well, but sometimes there was not a strong enough statement for me to make the change as fast as the play, if that makes sense (I could also just be a slow person, which shouldnt be discounted) The problems in this play are minimal compared to the payoff. This is a play that should be seen by a lot of people, and I hope that is the case for the four shows it has left. They have tried, and for much of the time succeeded, in doing something brave, something real. Congratulations Gentleman.

4.5 stars
"Intense ,involving theater" by steve legas:
A very well acted and well written piece.This show seemed to grow in intensity as it went on. The subject matter should have been difficult or uncomfortable to watch but it was not.Instead it was involving and drew me in completely. A madman to seek out this pigeon man.

4 stars
"Insanity, is it born or created??" by evelyn blum:
Insanity, is it born or created?? This dark matter of a show delves into the depth of childhood abuse and abandonment that spans all level. What plays out are the unavoidable results of this innocents lost. I found this show to be well written and superbly played out. The interjections of Humor made it possible to absorb the subject more fully, comfortably and with entertainment. It reminds you that theater needs no more than one man, well scripted words and an audience. I am grateful to have had the chance to be the third of those things

4 stars
"disturbing and higly watchable" by vickijoan keck:
The message from the producers is clear just from the name of the group, Act Provocateur, that this is theater that is not meant to entertain as much as to make you think, i.e. "provoke" you. I did find myself entertained in spite of myself, however, because of actor Andy Mcquades' heartfelt performance, which is tragic, funny and terrifying all at once. He exudes a boyish vulnerability and crazed charm in the role of abused man/child Arthur Cork that often brought tears to my eyes. The actor Mcquade sought out this role because of his own experience with child abuse, which you can read about in the show description. However, the Act Provocateur gang made it clear to me afterwards that the play is not about McQuades own experience and Arthur Cork is a fictional character. In any case, I found the performance extraordinary, but the ending left me with many unanswered questions. However, that's life, isn't it?? Good job!