Theater and Concert Reviews.
'Killing An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe'
by ROBERT MASSIMI 9 months ago in ARTScary Good.Robert Massimi.
Why do we really go see off-off Broadway? For me it has always been about finding that hidden gem, whether it was a really cool theater, that undiscovered actor, director or show that will make it to Broadway or have some credit of note. Off-off Broadway has always been about the aforementioned but more, or equally important, the use of these smaller spaces and how they use great imagination to put these shows on in such economical areas.
The Merchant's House Museum is a perfect place for an Edgar Allan Poe show. If you put that together with a really cool Poe actor, you have the makings for a great evening. John Kevin Jones acted three of Poe's more well known essays-short stories if you will (he only delved into one novella). The three included "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Cast of Amontillado" and one of his best known works, "The Pit and the Pendulum". Mr. Jones concluded the evening with "The Raven" and Poe's very first work "1824."
Done in a very simplistic way with John Kevin Jones moving about the salon, even looking like Poe, acting like him, he changes his accent for each and every essay. With understated, but effective lighting and sound effects, the entire evening is pleasant as Jones keeps us mesmerized as we listen to this deep, dark writer from yesteryear. Poe was as mysterious a person as anyone who ever has written. A true artist who had the admiration of other great writers such as Charles Baudelaire. Baudelaire, considered one of the greatest French poets after Arthur Rimbaud, kept in constant contact with the great American Poet. By way of letters, Poe and Baudelaire would discuss the writings of the day and bounced writing ideas off of each other.
Poe was one for the dark and gloomy, he witnessed his three great loves die of consumption. Adopted, he constantly fought with his step father. After his military school training and his service, Poe became, if not the first to support himself solely on writing, one of the first. "The Raven" gave him worldwide notoriety and recognition. Best known for his poetry and short stories, he is widely regarded as a central figure in Romanticism in the US and American literature as a whole, and he was one of the earliest practitioners of the short story. Another of Poe's great credits is that of being the first detective fiction writer and he is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.
To put on an effective "Poe", you need that certain allure, mystique that is Poe. Over the years I have gone to many Poe plays, festivals and readings. From St Charles, to the RPM, Poe always brings out his fans and people who are interested in both his works and his life. Even in death we are not really sure just how Poe lived nor died. One thing is for sure, the man could flat out write. Poe lived his life on the edge, he wrote like very few could. He saw the world differently, he wrote about it as such.
To watch Mr.Jones perform this great writers works with such verve was a real pleasure. Inside this well appointed salon that is the historic Merchant's House added to the spender of listening to this great writer. Dr. Rhonda Todd Directed this performance on a magnificent level. The passion, the coolness that is Poe's writing was every bit bold and at the same time reserved, locked in to the master writer.
Killing An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe is a reminder to the by-gone salon reading era, where great writers and members of society gathered on a Saturday evening to read poetry and other works of many great writers. These writers would then discuss, often debate, just what these writers were saying. Last evening felt just like that, the acting, the works of Edgar Allan Poe. It was if his spirit was alive and well in that room, that he was in that mock coffin in the room with us. Dark and enlightening, we felt for a little over an hour the spirit of Mr. Poe done masterfully by John Kevin Jones.
Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, The Ravin, Poet, John Kevin Jones, Dr. Rhonda Todd, U.S. Literature, Baltimore, New York City, The Merchant House, Saturday Night Salons, Picasso,Gertrude Stein, East Village.