The Poison Squad

The Duplicates

The Poison Squad is a metaphorical four-course meal that examines the 1904 food experiments of Dr. Harvey Wiley.

As the nation’s food supply began to industrialize, grocers and butchers laced food with chemicals in an effort to lengthen shelf life and grow profits. Acting on a good old-fashioned scientific hunch, USDA chemist Dr. Harvey Wiley designed an experiment to test those exact dangerous chemicals–like borax and formaldehyde–on a dozen hungry volunteers. Fashioning the basement of the USDA as a fine eatery and inviting the press into every little bite, this little-known moment in food history continues to shape our quiche Lorraine today.

The play vibrantly ventures from the halls of Congress to the brain of Wiley to the bowels of the men. This highly physical, vaudeville-inspired show features the performing talents of Will Davis, Harrison Harvey, Aly Talley, Diego Medillin, Patrick Shaw and Travis Tate. Told through a mashup of mediums including puppetry, installation, and music, The Poison Squad asks, how are we as a society are feeding ourselves?


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