This weekend we used the last opportunity see Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe by the university’s English Drama Workshop at ThOP. They used a number of poems and pieces by Poe – The Raven, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum as well as The Tell-Tale Heart – and turned them into an evening of theatre that started off with Poe writing and drifted to the pieces from there.
The poetry and writing are excellent and they managed to match that with the way they put it in scene. With the stage remaining scarcely decorated at all times and the drama being heightened by the way they used the interplay between the actors and the setup of the light. All that was very well done, leading to a great and exhausting experience.
Particularly in The Raven they did a great job in putting a number of actors on stage and having them continue each other’s sentences in way that worked extremely well. This also highlighted how hard poetry is, particularly on stage. A lot of effort and craft went into each line but when it is presented on stage you don’t have the time to dwell on each line’s nuances because the show will continue without you if you do. I found that having a bunch of actors share the text made it easier to channel my concentration on following the piece. [And in that respect things were much more interesting and ‘user-friendly’ than they are in Lou Reed’s recording, say.]
The only irritating aspect was that most of the actors didn’t sound particularly American. Half of them sounded rather German, and otherwise accents were more on the British side. Of course that can be explained with the background of the actors, but I still found it odd because it’s not how I expect Poe to sound.
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