Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom

*published on 23 Nov 2015 in The EDGE

Eric Folks and Madeline Mahoney play father and daughter in 'Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom'

Eric Folks and Madeline Mahoney play father and daughter in ‘Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom’  

Let me say from the get-go that I am not a fan of video games, but I am a huge fan of the Flea theater in TriBeCa and especially their program to encourage and utilize a young, resident acting troupe called The Bats. With that prejudice out of the way, I attended “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” with trepidation and left feeling that once again this wonderful theater has a presence and a mission that never fails to, at the very least, shake its audience.

The action takes place on a raked stage evocatively painted to represent gardens and streets, well wrought by designer Simon Harding. This represents a quiet neighborhood ruled with an iron hand by a Neighborhood Association. Here, every aspect of life from lawn height to the position of garden gnomes is tightly regulated.

And yet behind closed doors, the adolescents of Neighborhood 3 are addicted to a video game, which recreates their own geography and personal iconography exactly. The GPS map allows teenagers to battle zombies in their own neighborhood, even in their own houses. Parents try with decreasing success to coax kids from their rooms with cars, hamburgers, interventions and affection; all to no avail.

The play, written with an acid tongue for dialog and great wit by Jennifer Haley, premiered at the Humana Festival in Louisville; this is the New York City debut. It is directed with great aplomb by Joel Schumacher, whose wonderful work we know as a writer on “Car Wash,” “St Elmo’s Fire,” “Flatliners” and a few installments of the “Batman.” As well, he directed a number of episodes of the mega-hit “House of Cards.”

A narrator instructs the players on what to do to achieve maximum success in the level sets each scene. It is exactly like watching the gamers set their sites on getting a grenade, or a money clip or in this case garden shears, or a sugar fix. The teenagers all refer to their parents by their first names and seem unable to recognize the danger in being so detached from the linear world.

There are about eight different scenes or levels each artfully populated by a cast of 16, all excellent. The Flea has a policy of a one-sheet program that only lists the participants so I can’t delineate who played what character. They represent parents and children all involved in an elaborate game both in real life or AWK (away from keyboard) and on screen.

The issues raised by the play seemed terrifying to me as the mother to grown children attempting to tether them back to real life and away from screens of all sizes and ilks. However the very young audience thought that there were moments of grand hilarity.

I know from reading Bruno Bettelheim’s seminal work on childhood and the power of fairy tales, “The Uses of Enchantment,” that it is paramount for little kids to be able to envision killing their mothers or isolating their siblings thus Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and on and on. Perhaps video games provide the same kind of relief from an unempowered life for whomever plays them.

In “Neighborhood 3,” the Shakespearean contrivance of a play within a play finally unites as the kids reach the final terrifying level and one kid seamlessly segues from ignoring and excoriating his mother to actually murdering her with the hammer that was his final level weapon. We see the massacre in an off-stage shadow and when he returns to his game station he finally breaks down weeping. Curtain.

Again perhaps it is the confluence of slaughters in Paris and Mali, across the Middle East, and in movie theaters and elementary school across America, but playing at this level of violence is not entertaining or diverting to me, but rather a terrifying example of a world gone mad.

I applaud the Flea and the panoply of actors and creative stuff that brought this play to fruition, as many in the audience seemed tickled pink.

“Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” runs through Dec. 20 at The Flea, 41 White Street in New York. For tickets or information, call 212-226-0051 or visit

The Illusionists — Live on Broadway

*published on 23 Nov 2015 in The EDGE

We all want the holidays to be magical, even if we sometimes balk at the commercialism sewn into every early advertisement and the blaring carols. But there is something to be said for celebrating the darkest time of the year, which was the original druid impetus for a yuletide, equinox celebration and of bringing trees and lights inside. So this year I kicked off the holidays with magic.

I carted my goddaughters, 9 and 7, to the “The Illusionists — Live on Broadway” for a Sunday matinee and we had a rollicking blast. From the moment you enter, the stage is filled with a video of smoke emanating from somewhere marvel filled.

The show has a modern electronic, yet vaudevillian inspiration. There are six magicians, illusionists, ventriloquists, daredevils, conjurers and a futurist. They are all introduced and artfully segued by the MC, Jeff Hobson, who bills himself as the Trickster.

The Trickster tells jokes that make the adults laugh and the kids just see him as silly and over the top with his sequins and platinum hair. And his occasional card tricks keep us occupied while the massive stage at the Neil Simon Theater is constantly transformed. After all fire, cross bows, straitjackets, and dancing girls all must move on and off in order for the next level of wonder to be revealed.

The show runs over two hours and it rarely seems to lag as the acts are interspersed so smoothly by director and creative producer Neil Dorwood. The work of these seven artists, because this really is an artistic pursuit when shown so beautifully, is inspiring. We all gasp and endlessly imagine how did they do every trick.

There is a very scary act by Daredevil, Jonathan Goodwin who is a creative, skilled, and crazy stunt performer. He is an accomplished knife thrower, archer, escape artist, fakir, martial artist, free diver and free climber. Goodwin is not a magician, but he left us breathless. So much so that when he lit himself on fire while inverted and trapped in a straitjacket, I turned to the older girl and said “I cant look.” She responded that she was sure he had done this before. Ahhh, jaded youth.

The show then moves to a serene, elegant series of balletic card tricks performed by Korean born, Yu Ho-Jin, who calls himself The Manipulator. He is touted as a rising superstar in the world of magic and was named the 2014 “Magician of the Year,” by Academy of Magical Arts and was the first Asian to win the Grand Prix at the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques, also known as the “Olympics of Magic.” His work is calming, soothing and yet still awe-inspiring.

A final favorite, and very Halloween, is the The Anti-Conjuror, Dan Sperry. He is Marilyn Manson meets David Copperfield, and perhaps could be described as a practitioner of black magic. His first act was to swallow razor blades and then swallow string and finally tug them all out of this gullet tied together. Gross was the response from my row.

Later in the show, he borrows a quarter from an audience member, and then inserts it into his eye. He then slits his forearm open, very bloodily and extracts the coin from his arm. In fact I don’t even want to know how he does it, and we all agreed, we wouldn’t want that coin back.

Another favorite was The Futurist, Adam Trent, who works with video and lasers and creates a beautiful synthesis of technological illusions, dance and comedy all interlaced with classic techniques.

The time seemed to zoom by, dare I say magically.

“The Illusionists: Live on Broadway” runs through Jan. 3, 2016, at the Neil Simon Theater, 250 52 Street. For information or tickets, visit

Thérèse Raquin: theatre review

*published on 30 Oct 2015 in The EDGE

Matt Ryan and Kiera Knightley

Matt Ryan and Kiera Knightley  

“Thérèse Raquin” began life in 1897 as a novel by Emile Zola and has seen various reincarnations over the years. In 1980 the BBC serialized the book with the wonderful Kate Nelligan in the eponymous role. In 2001, Harry Connick, Jr. took a stab at envisioning the work as a musical entitled, “Thou Shalt Not” and now the Roundabout Theatre Company is mounting this gripping tale in its Studio 54 space, starring Keira Knightley in her Broadway debut.

We meet Thérèse Raquin in this reinterpretation by Helen Edmunson, in the starkly beautiful set by Beowulf Boritt, and she seems to be literally hollowed out she seems so fragile, thin and timid. We learn that Therese’s father, a sea captain, left her when she was two in the care of his sister, Madame Raquin, after the death of her Algerian mother.

Madame Raquin is firmly evinced by one of our great actors, two-time Tony winner Judith Light, currently in the Golden Globe winning series, “Transparent.” Thérèse grew up with her cousin Camille who in manhood is a simpering valetudinarian, ever chasing a constant illness. Needless to say that with a mother who dotes on his every simper, Camille has become an unbearable selfish prig.

Of course Thérèse is wedded to him. She seems emptier with every scene in the dark, unhappy home. Camille, played with unctuous perfection by Gabriel Ebert, decides the troika must move to Paris. Here the family hosts a gaggle of petty bourgeois guests who come promptly at 9 p.m. to play games and drink, making sure the table is moved by millimeters, a metaphor for the strict, unwavering nature of this class. David Patrick Kelly, Jeff Still and Mary Wiseman provide ample color and distraction as the guests who visit weekly to gossip and support the main characters. And they will need it.

Thérèse and Madame Raquin open a small shop, and Camille finally lands a job at the Railway Company. Here he meets a childhood friend, the very sexy, seething Laurent played with a wild abandon by Matt Ryan. In the initial scene when Laurent enters the Raquin home, Thérèse is still a timid mouse, small voiced and bloodless. But as Laurent speaks, she arcs her body toward him as if magnetized by his manly force, until one is sure she will tip out of her strait-backed chair in order to be ever closer to him. It is a genius maneuver and whether it was the direction by Evan Cabnet, which is marvelous, or the inspiration of Knightley, it is a silent action that speaks volumes.

They begin an intense affair and Thérèse is transformed in Laurent’s arms, and here we witness Knightley’s subtle acting chops come to the fore. When Laurent thrusts her upon the wall of her own bedroom, she moans, “There is finally blood in my veins!” We believe her; she is transformed.

Since this is a romance, tinged with mystery and at least a little ghoulish, horrifying and haunting, I am loath to give away the full story for those who did not have to read the it in French Lit 101. It is a show that moves with considerable pace as characters are compelled and cursed in equal measure. Again I commend the lighting by Keith Parham and a setting so compelling that in a boating scene I imagine those in the front row may be leaving the theater wet.

This is heavy, heady stuff and it was only marred for me by a jarring tittering from the audience who perhaps was seeking so jokes to relieve a melodramatic evening part “Tell Tale Heart,” part “Romeo and Juliet” and all from two centuries ago when people endured their stations in life and waited with baited breath for interstitial moments of fulfillment and might well do anything to enhance their staid lives.

“Thérèse Raquin” runs through Jan. 3, 2016 at The Roundabout Theatre Company, 254 West 54th St. in New York. For information or tickets, call 212-719-1300 or visit

Playwright Joshua Harmon Explores the Millennial Landscape with ‘Significant Other’

*Published on 28 July 2015 on THE EDGE

Joshua Harmon

Joshua Harmon  


Playwright Joshua Harmon has an unwavering ear for dialog and an unflinching ability to regard his generation from a catbird seat that provides us glimpses into the world of Millennials both gay and straight.

Harmon is ubiquitously quoted as saying that seeing “Medea” at age ten with Diana Rigg was a pivotal point in his calling to be a playwright. However, he also had turns in “Peter Pan,” and “thinks” he perhaps played the Wicked Witch of the West in nursery school. All pitch perfect experiences to prepare him to express his diverse visions of modern life for eager theatergoers.

His first widely produced play “Bad Jews” was a success that leaped the pond from off-Broadway to London and garnered accolades everywhere it landed. Harmon seems to have a knack to creating work that is often described as “savagely funny,” (which is what Harmon calls an ability to be both “deep and silly.”) His newest work “Significant Other” plows those same tropes by unearthing humor and pathos in equal measure.

And like his previous effort, it has received excellent notices. “The play, which opened on Thursday at the Laura Pels Theater in a Roundabout Theater Company production directed with nimble grace by Trip Cullman, is as richly funny as it is ultimately heart-stirring,” wrote Charles Isherwood in reviewing the play in the New York Times last month. (It continues through August 18.)


Lindsay Mendez and Gideon Glick in “Significant Other”  (Source:Joan Marcus)

Insecurity drives comedy

In an interview at a Chelsea coffee shop Harmon says that often his comedy comes “a lot from insecurity. Comedy is instant gratification. If the audience is laughing, you know they are with you and it keeps them both open and listening when you want to a deeper moment.

“Comedy protects the writer when you’re going deeper, and it also serves a scientific function in the play. Joni Mitchell said, ‘laughing and crying, you know it’s the same release,’ and she’s right. A laugh before an intense moment can open an audience up”

Harmon says that when he finished “Significant Other” he thought it the saddest play he had ever written. Then, taking of those brave comedy pauses, adds, “until the first reading. But the comedy often takes care of itself.” That may be true if you have been an esteemed member of Juilliard’s graduate playwriting program for three years. The normal length of time given to graduate fellows is two years, but Harmon was invited back again and again to work with Marsha Norman and comedy wunderkind Christopher Durang.

“The osmosis of being allowed to absorb navigating 40 year careers in the theater and being taught how to build bridges and understand, as Norman says, that playwriting is not a ‘renewable resource’ created a kind of wonderful urgency in me,” he reflected on working with those Tony-winning playwrights.


Barbara Barrie and Gideon Glick in “Significant Other”  (Source:Joan Marcus)


Many want to draw parallels with Harmon and Jordan Berman, the lead character of “Significant Others.” Berman is a 29-year old gay man afloat in a sea of gal pals who one by one get married. Now 32, Harmon wrote the play right before “Bad Jews” went into rehearsals at the Roundabout Underground in 2012. Though Harmon is circumspect about the details of his personal life, he does demur that the play is not autobiographical, but rather it seeks to pose some deep questions he and his cohorts grapple with often.

“The seed of the work is true for me, but as I write it becomes something else. In this play at the nexus is the story about a wedding. With most weddings you are looking at the bride, but here I wanted to say that the Gay best friend is also worthy of examination. Jordan is a member of a group that is often underrepresented, at the margins. That places an extra burden on him, but he’s not meant to represent an entire population. He’s one individual character.”

Harmon admits that he didn’t come out until after college and “it was a tough time, as it felt strange trying to understand how I fit into the world. The notion that your biology is not wired in the dominant direction.” Perhaps it is his searching nature that gives Harmon such enlightened access to both the worlds of all those around him. Harmon is at work on two commissions, so he is happily busy. Certainly the trajectory of this young writer will be eagerly watched.

“Significant Other” continues through August 16 at the Laura Pels Theater, Manhattan. For more information, visit the Roundabout Theatre website.


The Dreamer Examines His Pillow

*published on 12 Aug 2015 on The EDGE

Summer theater abounds in NYC; it is a time to wander the edges and find places, companies and plays that might elude us during the year. One such offering shining brightly in TriBeCa is The Attic Theater Company’s production of “the dreamer examines his pillow,” mounted at The Flea Theater and artfully directed by Attic’s artistic director Laura Braza.

The play was written nearly 30 years ago by consummate New Yorker John Patrick Shanley. Shanley surmounted a thug-tough

Summer theater abounds in NYC; it is a time to wander the edges and find places, companies and plays that might elude us during the year. One such offering shining brightly in TriBeCa is The Attic Theater Company’s production of “the dreamer examines his pillow,” mounted at The Flea Theater and artfully directed by Attic’s artistic director Laura Braza.

The play was written nearly 30 years ago by consummate New Yorker John Patrick Shanley. Shanley surmounted a thug-tough childhood and draws upon it liberally in all his writing. He garnered accolades in film, TV, and theater winning every prize imaginable. Many know him for “Moon-Struck” and “Doubt” on Broadway and film.

“dreamer” is described as a “comedy of anguish” and The Flea is the perfect intimate space for the play’s dreamlike exploration of tragedy and exuberant connective tissue between two lovers.

Donna and Tommy grope their way through lust, love and art. Donna, played with gusto by Lauren Nicole Cipoletti, has an on again, off again relationship with Tommy, the wonderful Shane Patrick Kearns, who will be seen opposite Jacqueline Bisset in the upcoming feature film “Peter & John.”

In three scenes wrought in ramshackle rooms well-designed by Julia Noulin-Merat, we follow the couple as they fight about the meaning of life and fidelity. Tommy is also having an affair with Donna’s 16-year-old sister. These endless conversations lead Donna to return to confront her Irish father, embodied by Dennis Parlato who galvanizes the stage as a drunk in a regal-red robe.

Donna refers to him as a piece of red lint and accosts him until he finally agrees to answer her questions about her own life. This charged conversation leads her to insist that he talk to Tommy “to get him to marry me, or beat him up.”

The play alternates between the surreal; it opens with a Tommy praying to his small refrigerator, and poetic; a monologue delivered by Donna extolling the transformative nature of amazing sex is glorious. As ever, Shanley can write; his dialogue is pitch-perfect and his musings can transport audiences. Occasionally the mix of rat-a-tat-tat dialogue and long monologues can seem off-kilter, but Shanley quickly ropes us back in to the yin and yang dissection of love.

“the dreamer examines his pillow” runs through August 25 at The Flea Theater, 41 White Street in Tribeca. For information or tickets,

Dinner Guest- Joe Carini

*published in Aspire Metro Magazine on 29 July 2015

Sought after for their artistic design, elegant materials and traditional hand weaving methods rarely utilized in modern carpet making, Carini Lang’s carpets grace the homes of bold-faced names such as Stephen Spielberg, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and architect extraordinaire, Lord Norman Foster. We caught up with Carini in his studio in Tribeca, located in a former Art Deco-designed bank, to learn more of his trade.

Wickham Boyle: How did you get started?
Joe Carini: Honestly, I became fascinated with carpets at an early age; my grandmother had some marvelous rugs in a sunroom on which I delightedly traced the patterns with my trucks. Later, I went to Pratt to study painting. During art school, I got interested in buying and selling rare and collectible carpets.

When buying and selling antique carpets at high prices, you need specific knowledge. So, I learned about designs, the provenance of works, original colors and materials so as to place them in historical context. I also worked with some Persian carpet repairmen in an attempt to absorb the integral workings of these carpets. By doing so, I immersed in the ancient culture, and by learning the repair, I began to absorb the entire carpet culture.

WB: How did you first become involved in the carpet making business?
JC: In 1990 I was introduced to someone starting a carpet company, and I wore many hats in this start up: design, specifications and often the sourcing of materials. I found there weren’t that many interesting contemporary rugs. Many companies were selling bad repros of traditional rugs, almost reproducing antique rugs slavishly.

I saw an opportunity to take carpets to a higher level by using traditionally trained quality weavers and the best sourced materials. I left in 1997 to start my own company. I wanted to go further with natural traditional vegetable dyes. My desire was to move away from commercial carpet production to an experimental and unique kind of work – a product where quality would be the main focus and would include a revival of many ancient techniques that, sadly, were beginning to disappear.

I spent a long time reintroducing the techniques into Carini Lang productions. It took a few years to get the process, materials and dyes to the level that I envisioned. After mastering that component, I began dreaming and designing a contemporary line, which is our signature.


WB: How did you become interested in and drawn to natural dyes and products?
JC: At an early age when I was studying painting, I became aware of and attracted to the physical materials of paint. For example, Fra Angelico ground lapis lazuli stone into his paint, and I feel it has a physiological effect. Rembrandt and Titian ground minerals and even sometimes semi-precious gems, all suspended in oil or egg tempera.

Carpets had compelled me by color and pattern. I was most attracted to old carpets; I wasn’t drawn to new carpets with synthetic dyes. The original colors were so luminous and fascinating. For me, the essence of the carpets was the color, just like in a Renaissance painting. If you regard that same painting in black and white, you only glimpse a small aspect of it. Like Renaissance work, carpets are a combination of color and geometry.

Five hundred years ago, color was the cutting edge of technology. Color used to be what set classes aside. Royalty was ranked by the value of their clothing; only the upper class could wear purple. This study of color led me to ask, “How did certain colors make me feel?”

I wanted to understand where these colors came from because I had a sense that their origins might unlock some secrets. I was intrigued with the stories of the revered dye masters who discovered these colors and passed them on as secrets, almost like alchemical secrets. The other aspect for me was that these magical colors appeared much more vibrant than colors made in modern chemical laboratories.

I was working in another country, in another culture. I didn’t want to make my living by making a negative impact on the environment;
I wanted to work responsibly. Vegetable dyes are one of the things we can do that leaves very little impact on the environment. The plants utilized in dyes, for the most part, are cultivated as herbal remedies. Thus, the surplus dye is just organic matter that dissolves back into the earth.


WB: What draws you to the culture of Nepal?
JC: Nepal’s charms come from a combination of the people, who are so smart and joyful and seem to relate from their hearts, and the opulent beauty of the physical surroundings. Kathmandu is in a fertile valley ringed by the majestic Himalayas. The raw materials, the cashmere, the yak wool available in abundance and the reverence for a tradition of carpet making are very clear when you come to Nepal.

Also, the ancient cities have architecture that leaves you agog, art that is on every street corner in some small way, and magnificent temples on the hilltops, such as Swayambhunath, the famous monkey temple. The religious traditions, Buddhism and Hinduism, make you feel as if you are in contact with another world from 1,000 years ago. This energy makes it very conducive for inner reflection.

WB: Did your interest in traditional carpet making and knot tying come before or after the business started to boom?
JC: I went into the business thinking that I would make everything with the best of all artisanal methods. Why throw out all the progress made over hundreds of years? Who makes better wine: the small batch wine maker on his great grandfather’s estate or the giant vats using chemicals to enhance and speed things up? Me, I am always going to want to taste from the small guy, not the new processed version. I took that vision into my carpet making.

WB: What is your favorite part of making magical carpets?
JC: Discovering something new that I didn’t know before. Making something that I didn’t think was possible. I’ve made colors that I didn’t think possible, and now people often ask for them.

WB: What are your clients like?
JC: My clients are usually people who collect fine art, and are interested in design and in furniture as art. They range from celebrities to people with a heightened sensibility for how finer things enhance lives.

WB: What is your personal space like style wise?
JC: Kind of a clean, ‘70s style – the ‘70s high style as that is the period of my youth. My home is decorated with good ‘70s furniture and Italian chandeliers. It’s not too cluttered; it’s homey and simple.

My office is now global style, but my spaces change often. I vacillate between a Victorian clutter and a monastic simplicity. I am now in a period of trying to declutter; I don’t want to be around too many objects. We’ll see how that unfolds.



Righty or lefty?

Drinks of choice?
Laughing Man Ethiopian coffee beans, made by drip with whole milk. Cocktail of choice is an Arnold Palmer (and he laughs).

Favorite food?
Wild salmon or good Indian food (little on the spicy side).

Favorite food as a child?
Italian chicken cutlets, meatballs and lots of veggies. That’s what I cook for my three kids now.

Favorite local restaurant?
The Odeon, a Tribeca standard. I start with the calamari. For dinner, I have steak frites, and for lunch, a tuna burger.

Prefer intimate dinners or large gatherings?
Intimate dinners, and I am a pretty good cook.

Favorite dinner music?
I like to cook to Bob Marley, the Beatles and the Allman Brothers Band. Last night I made baby bok choy, sweet potatoes, snap peas, quinoa and broiled wild salmon. For dinner music, I prefer Beethoven piano sonatas, the middle to late period.

Most memorable dinner to date?
This may surprise people. I was flying to Vienna first-class on Austrian Airlines, and they served a five-course meal. The chef, Kurt Gutenbrunner, owns Blaue Gans and Wallse in downtown New York City. The wines, everything was perfect.

If you could have dinner with anyone from your past, who would it be?
My grandparents because I miss them.

If you could have dinner with anyone living, who would it be?
Oh, with the Dalai Lama. I imagine we’d have an amazing vegetarian meal in a fine Indian restaurant.

What do you do for exercise?
I am a walker because I find walking so meditative. Sometimes I ride bikes with my kids. I have a few wonderful vintage motorcycles, but I ride a Vespa for commuting.

If you could cook for anyone, who would it be?
My kids and their friends.

Joe Carini supports the Dalai-La Nepal Earthquake Relief. To make a donation visit

Egypt Still Inspires

Egyptian Design Still Inspires Awe, Even 3,300 Years Later

Wickham-Nefertiti-tombEgyptian artists, artisans, architects and astrologers reached heights of sophistication and mastery that deemed Egypt one of the greatest ancient civilizations. Their construction of the pyramids, understanding of planetary movements and interior decoration are still marveled at by the modern world; it’s no wonder that Egypt is on everyone’s must-see list. Today, after the revolution, Egypt is eager to welcome visitors from all corners of the world to revel in its culture.

Wickham-tomb-entranceThe merging of paintings and sculptural elements in the much-lauded Queen Nefertiti’s tomb is a prime example of the Egyptians’ accomplishments. Since its massive renovation, completed in 1992, the tomb is rarely opened. However, the well-timed visitor can enter into a world of such refined glory and beauty that it virtually vibrates with architectural reverence.

The huge tomb – really the size and lay-out of a large modern apartment – is chiseled into a limestone mountain. It features paintings in bright colors, employing bas-relief to enhance the realism, as well as poems inscribed on the walls, composed by Ramses II to memorialize his deceased wife.

Wickham-tomb-insideThe style is less naturalistic than what was later employed by the Greeks and Romans, yet it draws a modern eye. In his book “Egyptian Painting and Relief,” Gay Robins, an expert on Egyptian painting, explains a technique with which the Egyptians would draw a square around the intended space for decorating to ensure correct proportions. This grid system begins to unpack the precision evinced in Nefertiti’s tomb, but the artistry of the birds, goddesses, robes and beauty of Queen Nefertiti holding hands with Isis welcomes the viewer to a rich world.

Every surface is painted and relief cut to portray the continuity of beliefs, friendships, desires and religious customs. However, to the modern discerning eye, the moment of great covetousness comes when the viewer’s gaze turns upward and beholds a ceiling in deepest Egyptian blue filled with a field of stars.

Wickham-tomb-ceilingAlthough the Egyptians knew each star by name, this is not an actual sky, but rather a decorator’s depiction of stars – row after row of hand-painted, fivepointed stars in horizontal and vertical patterns, with endless tiny permutations that in themselves could occupy a day’s visit. The effect is to reproduce eternity underground.



In one of his poems about Nefertiti, Ramses II wrote, “My love is unique – no one can rival her, for she is the most beautiful woman alive. Just by passing, she has stolen away my heart.” Many will feel that way about the design in this 3,300-year-old tomb.

Photography courtesy of Wickham Boyle