Thursday, May 14, 2015

Poe follows the last days of the master of the macabre.


This year's Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival has just begun. If you haven't been before, you are missing thirteen days of non-stop theater at venues all around Lock Haven Park. Fringe plays are selected by lottery.Fringe is... 100% UNCENSORED, 100% UNJURIED, 100% ACCESSIBLE, 100% of $ from ticket sales go directly to the ARTISTS. Anyone can Fringe.

I went to a rehearsal for Poe presented by Theater Downtown in the Green Venue which is in the black box theater of the Rep. It seemed fitting that Poe, Written by Stephen Most and directed by Frank Hilgenberg, should be staged in a black box. The play follows the final tormented days of the author of "The Raven" and "The Tell Tale Heart". Chris Prueitt breathed life into the tortured poet.  Before the rehearsal started cast members joked and wrestled playfully. It is a shame some of that playfulness never seemed to play a part of Poe's life. His pompous airs didn't impress towns folk and as he recites one of his poems he is beaten and robbed. His father considered him a lazy vagrant. Their contentious relationship comes to a head as Edgar imagines himself murdering his dad and hiding the corpse below the floor boards.

Biographical fact mixed with fiction is retold through the authors own tales. Darci Ricciardi did the shows choreography. Before the rehearsal, she welcomed me dressed in a whispy white dress that made her look just like Marilyn Monroe, all that was missing was a subway grate. The dress made sense when she and three other dancers moved in mystical fluid motion around the fallen poet. Bawdy prostitutes and violent thugs haunted the poets life. Family life offered little solace.

Poe fell madly in love with a young cousin played by Jolie Hart. Their happiness was quickly cut short when illness struck and Jolie lay motionless on a platform like Sleeping Beauty. The poet couldn't accept her death, believing she would return to him. Had she been buried alive? She ultimately did return in dreams wearing a white expressionless mask. Darci and the dancers also wore white masks and black gowns and danced in a scene that managed to make my skin crawl. The show has it's horrors, it's tortured misgivings. If darkness you seek, it might be quite thrilling.

Tickets $11 plus required Orlando Fringe button (available at Fringe box office).
Green Venue - The Orlando REP (Black Box theatre to the left of The Rep main stage)
1001 East Princeton Street, Orlando, FL.

Thursday 5/14     9:00pm
Saturday 5/16     10:30pm
Monday 5/18      9:00pm
Wednesday 5/20 5:30pm
Thursday 5/21     7:30pm
Saturday 5/23      8:45pm
Sunday 5/24        11:30am

No comments: