Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009 / 8:00pmNevermore
How was your experience?
Nevermore Indeed. The comments on this performance are all raves. The show has been extended. It would seem sacrilege to criticize. Sometimes an iconoclast is needed. I was looking for real insight into Poe and some new angles on his work. What I heard were very familiar works, in fact war horses, a few unimpressive snippets of rather tired romantic verse and a lot of exaggerated stretches of attempts at caricature of a drunk. It did not work. I did not think this was Poe anymore than the character lampooned in Amadeus is Mozart. This focus on drink and clowning did not tell us much about how Poe became Poe or what he thought or did. If this was the real Poe than he was not interesting enough for a one man show and a recital of his works by an expert declaimer would be far better. Some artists should only be known through their art. If you are thinking Mark Twain Tonight you will be disappointed. There is no commentary on the present to make Poe alive. There is no information on his work you did not hear in junior high except perhaps his petty squabbles with long dead contemporaries. And sad to say, the declamation of the poetry read is not well paced or revealing. The high point is Tell Tale Heart , very familiar of course, but well done capturing the humor and suspense that made Poe unique and ahead of his times. Combs is better at this prose than he is capturing poetry. The Raven is also interesting though with ill-timed pauses. At the opposite end the Bells is a travesty of unhistorical presentation and not even completed. The wrongness of the performance was not aided by the location. The Steve Allen is a narrow long hall with all the forward seats essentially at the same level If you are not tall either get to the front or settle for a rear seat on the raised platform. There also a few high chairs at the end of some rows.This viewer spent the whole performance positioning and repositioning around restless obstacles in front. The sad thing is the one paragraph blurb in the program provides more insight than the play. I recommend reading up in Wikipedia and picking up a good recording at the library. My guess is the real Poe was a true psychological drama worth the examination. A rare famous Southern artist before the 20th century who must reveal aspects of the divide then forming and a unique example of America at this stage growing a writer different than any in Europe. Why Poe you may wonder, how did he develop that unique voice and style? No Answers in this Performance.