Some of us, having read it at a formative age, still haven’t gotten over James Mills’s 1966 novel of addiction, The Panic in Needle Park, which was set in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The Sickness, a new work by the avant-garde playwright and director Emil Varda, takes us to the Lower East Side of the 1990s, a low-rent landscape that was a magnet for artists of all stripes. Varda frames the heroin addiction of two artists as an existential voyage on a ghost ship, and in the process challenges traditional theatrical forms. The play features Ryan Cupello, Mia Vallet, and Mark Lobene. Varda directs. —L.J.