Play Review: Poe

Once upon a late night dreary / as i waited eager, cheery / for the beginning of tonight’s unforgotten lore/

shadows lurked from darkest corners / heaps of paper littered the stage / from which emerged in twilight’s hour / the soul of Edgar Allen Poe.

So, while not sure what to expect while sitting in the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s theatre, I was certain I would not be disappointed – especially since I was already enthralled with the scenery designed to emphasize the mad darkness that is Poe. But even so, I did not notice that the shadows and heaps of paper scattered about the stage concealed Giles Davies, who would be representing not the soul of Edgar Allan Poe, but the soul of his works. When the lights flicked on and Davies arose, silently except for the rustle of paper that enveloped him like a blanket, it took me a moment to realize that, save for a few sheets of paper strung haphazardly about his waist and words from his works scribbled across his body, Davies was naked. Now while I took this well, I heard the elderly man sitting beside me mutter to his wife, ‘What the Hell kind of play is this anyway?’

Well, frankly, it was a wonderful play, at least in my mind, where literature, poetry and words in general are an opium. Giles Davies, (who did gradually clothe himself from the pieces of his suit cast about the stage) injected not only passion, love, fury and fear into the words, but also humor. As it was a one-man show, Davis had to play multiple characters at once and he morphed from one to another effortlessly, as in The Angel of Odd, where he was at once the unlucky alcoholic protagonist and the interfering Angel who is not afraid of rapping one upon the head to make a point (and who also has a hilariously exaggerated German accent and is made up of liquor bottles – with a Hessian canteen for a head, and a body made up of a rum cask with arms of long wine bottles turned so that the necks are his hands and kegs for legs).

Of course Poe’s more poplar works, The Raven and Annabel Lee, were showcased, but also given their 15 minutes were Never Bet the Devil Your Head (a personal favorite of mine), The Angel of Odd, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Mask of the Red Death and The Tell Tale-Tale Heart, closing with what is probably the most revealing of Poe’s works, his poem ‘Alone.’

I have a list of reasons you should go out and see the last few showings of Poe. You get the student rate, which is only $15. The company members are always helpful and friendly and you can truly sense the love they have for the literature they are bringing to life. And this is the 200th anniversary of Poe’s birth; what better way to celebrate it than by going to the theater, where you can appreciate his life spent ‘from childhood’s hour’ unlike any other.

The last few showings are on Sunday, Tuesdays and Wednesday’s at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m. And please remember these rules of theatre etiquette when you go. Obvious as it may seem, turn off your cell phone before the beginning of the show, try to avoid walking around during the performance and unwrapping cough drop or candy wrappers. Don’t bring babies or small children – if you do you might as well bring the family pet, because it will be as equally distracting. Remember this isn’t a movie – the actors on stage can hear and see you, and they will react to your behavior, even if you do not see the reaction, and they deserve to be respected for the effort they have put into an evening of entertainment for you.