Edgar: a review
You may or may not know how Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, wearing clothes that were not his own. He had been missing for six days, and died just four later. 150 years on, and a cast of young actors take to the stage in an attempt to explain the inexplicable: the period during which Edgar was unaccounted for. With the lights down low and a haunting recital of the writer’s last work (unofficially named The Light-House), the audience is jolted into a tortured soul’s semi-world. Here, the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur as his characters and real life idols meet at a party celebrating the man himself.
This wasn’t a school play, or indeed anything like one. There was no painted scenery, nor an abundance of makeshift props. Its execution was refreshingly simple: actors relied on little but their own voices to bring the auditorium alive with their story. And what a story it was! A plot bursting with originality and littered with literary references, such as the characters’ refusal to tell William Reynolds - a character, I can only assume, born from the idea that Edgar repeatedly called out “Reynolds” on the night before his death - their names, instead replying with “Nevermore”, as in The Raven. The uncertainty about who Reynolds (Jack Daffin) actually was just goes to show how little the group were tied down by what already exists, instead exploiting artistic license. Each character was portrayed in such a way that they were, as the director himself states, “interpretations, not impersonations”. In doing this the actors and directors let their own vivid imaginations shine through and combine with that of Poe (making quite a dream team!)
It can’t be easy to ricochet between drama and comedy whilst maintaining a logical plot, but this lot pulled it off. One particular scene typified this mix: a light-hearted game of charades featuring the characters’ inability to guess book titles morphed into an extract of A Tell Tale Heart performed by its narrator (Callum Daniels), as “To Kill a Mockingbird” became the tortured cries of “they’re mocking me!” In spite of largely dark subject matter, the play wasn’t without a sprinkling of jokes throughout, derived from the awkwardness that’d inevitably come about at a party filled with such strange characters. Take Ulalume (Isabella Perkins), reduced to murmuring “mingle, mingle, mingle…” to herself in humorous fashion after failing to make conversation with the raven (Georgia Daniels) sat reading in the corner. It even had the altercation no party or large gathering would be complete without, as the two wives (Alessia Spadaro and Joley Curran) of Ligeia’s unnamed narrator (Andrew Collins) fought about whom he loved most.
The actors certainly lived up to the high standard of the script, and not one deserves to go without mention. From Edgar himself (Joey Hazeltine) to the motherly figure of Maria Clemm (Claire Crawford) and lighthouse keeper cum party thrower (James Barrett), each and every one was brimming with talent. Lastly - but by no means least-ly! - to Elliot Needham, Sophie Crawford, Phoebe McHugh, and Rebecca Plant, who also took on their respective roles with flair.
It was almost a shame to step out of the “mad and crazy world” ActNoW 4 had created. I would quite honestly buy a copy on DVD if it meant I was invited back to visit again. There were far, far more scenes worthy of mention, but, rather than reading it, you’d have been better off seeing it. I can only suggest you hurry down to the Pound Arts and bag the best seats in time for their next show.
Date Posted: Friday 27 July 12
Author: Lucy Moor