Saturday night we went to the New London Theater‘s production of “An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe.” It was a very enjoyable evening with several Poe classics (and two I’d never heard of) woven together into a single show. It’s community theater, so there were no Tony-worthy performances, but we did have a great time, and the cast should be proud of their work.
The show weaves together these works
- The Fall of the House of Usher
- The Tell-Tale Heart
- The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether
- The Raven
- The Cask of Amontillado
- The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
- The Masque of the Red Death
all within the context of the House of Usher. The narrator, here as “Edgar,” goes to see his despondent friend, Roderick Usher, who has written to him. Over the course of his stay, he regales Usher, and his sister Madeleine, with the other stories listed. He begins a tale, the house lights go down, the stage hands reset the stage, and then we see the story unfold. At the end of each story, the action goes back to Usher and Edgar. It was a clever way to combine several disjointed stories into a single evening, while still maintaining a thread of continuity.
I’d never heard of “Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether,” which is a very funny story about inmates running the asylum. After checking in my Poe Reader, I discovered that I have this story, so I’ll have to read it sometime. I’d also never heard of “M. Valdemar,” which is a story about Mesmerism and its consequences. “Amontillado” and the “Tell-Tale Heart” are among my favorites, so it was nice to see them worked in. I thought “Red Death,” which was the last story told, should have either been given more stage time, or taken out altogether. It was a very short segment and just didn’t work that well. But one not-so-great and six really-goods, is not a bad record.
Altogether an enjoyable evening. We’ll definitely be going to more productions by this group in the future.