Vanity Project Productions presents a show based on Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre short stories, as well as the demons of the author himself.
Should you see it?
The Poe Show opens with a creepy vibe and remains nightmarish throughout. Vanity Project Production’s latest combines stagings of some of Poe’s dark short stories with the life of the author himself. This is a very dark show, obviously. Even the costuming and makeup make the actors look like ghosts.
This is a strong piece of ensemble theatre; all of the actors work well together. The movement is well coordinated and fluid. Stewart Matthews’ direction is impeccable, using the stage of Studio Léonard-Beaulne to its full advantage. There’s something almost dance-like about how the actors move about the stage, floating like specters.
Of course, it helps to know a little bit about Poe and his stories before going into the show. For example, I wasn’t aware that Poe’s death at the age of 40 is still mysterious until I was doing research for this review, even though it comes into play in The Poe Show.
The Poe Show is dark, atmospheric and may haunt your dreams after you fall asleep at night. It’s definitely a unique addition to the Fringe line-up. Among so many comedies and sketch shows, it’s refreshing to see something that is unabashedly dark. Of course, moments of humor do punctuate The Poe Show, but they only prove to be momentary relief to its permanent sense of dread. Truly, the moral of The Poe Show seems to be that no matter how hard you try, you can’t escape your demons.
I didn’t start off loving The Poe Show. I was confused, at first, over who the scenes were about (turns out they’re mainly dramatizations of stories Poe wrote – not biographical depictions). This would have been easy enough to address with a little bit of pre-show research on my part but in my opinion, that onus shouldn’t be on the me.
Despite my inclinations otherwise, however, I was slowly drawn into the macabre and mysterious world of Morella, The Black Cat, Masquerade of the Red Death, and more. Usually a late night show has me wanting bedtime but I actually wished the night could continue until the wee hours of the morning. One hour isn’t nearly long enough to enjoy something as sinister and special as this.
It’s a true shame that writer David M. Beecroft didn’t explore Poe’s tragic demise in greater detail. I feel that there’s a lot more story to tell and that it would be even more captivating to fully weave the story of Poe’s life in with the lives of Poe’s stories. I greatly hope Vanity Projects Productions will remount this show for Halloween, although perhaps with a touch less violence in the death scenes. It was a fantastic show!
The Poe Show is tough for me to figure out. I felt the performances were strong. Jeremy Piamonte is a rising star in our city. Sara Duplancic, Hannah Gibson-Fraser, and Anna Lewis all have a great, eerie presence on stage. Sara Duplancic’s turn as the black cat remains one of the standout parts of the show for me.
The staging and directing was remarkable. Stewart Matthews did wonderful work with his cast and designers to create a unique atmosphere as well as in the dramatization of the text.
A significant part of the material was the dramatization of the works of Poe themselves, so also tried and true.
Yet. The pieces didn’t fit together. The only of the stories that drew me in was the aforementioned Cat story. The other just fell flat, barely able to keep my interest. And the framing device around the life of Poe himself, confused me. I have (mostly abstract) theories about why the pieces didn’t work together, but the point is that, for me at least, they didn’t.
What did you think of The Poe Show? Did it give you nightmares? What did you think of the dark tone? What Poe story would you like to see this ensemble reenact? Join the discussion in the comments below!
For more information on The Poe Show, including show times and how to get advance tickets, visit the show page on OttawaFringe.com: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/the-poe-show/