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Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe

a Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Eric Coble

COMPANY : New London Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Hello Again Variety Mall [WEBSITE]
ID# 5058

SHOWING : March 31, 2017 - April 16, 2017

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Edgar Allan Poe stands alone in the flickering darkness of his mind, trying desperately to convince himself -- and us -- that he’s not mad. The spell he weaves brings us a highly theatrical adaptation of four tales Poe himself considered his best: "The Raven," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and "The Tell-Tale Heart." Enter the world of Poe and check your heartbeat at the door.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Scott Piehler
Roderick/Poe Robbie Summerour
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REVIEWS

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Pacing
by playgoer
Saturday, April 22, 2017
2.5
When people talk about the pacing of a play, they generally refer to the speed with which the action proceeds. In the first act of New London’s production of "Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe," we get a different kind of pacing, with actors roaming across the stage in a circular stream that comes close to causing nausea. This is particularly pronounced in the initial selection, in which the poem "The Raven" is declaimed primarily by the constantly roaming Amara Alford, Jake Pillsbury, and J. Blair Sanders. Charles Bohanan, as Poe, and Charles Pillsbury, manipulating the red-eyed raven puppet, have less movement and therefore come across as more steady in the narration.

Second up is "The Fall of the House of Usher," and movement increases to surround the audience, with the crypt of Madelaine (Alicia Owens) in back by the sound/light booth. Sound and light effects in Scott Piehler’s design underline the creepy, rainy, dank atmosphere of the piece. Charles Bohanan continues in his role as the Poe surrogate/author, while Robbie Summerour takes on the role of the haunted Roderick Usher.

The two pieces in the short first act are followed by two pieces in the second act. Movement in "The Pit and the Pendulum" is severely limited, as Sante (the scarred and bruised Nathaniel Lilly, in terrific makeup by Ariana Wu) is imprisoned in a dungeon while Poe (Robbie Summerour) narrates his story. The set works wonderfully well in this sequence, with bloody handprints on a wall and light and motion effects suggesting the heat and claustrophobia of Sante’s imprisonment.

Last up is "The Tell-Tale Heart," with Evette Collier-Bell effectively navigating a descent into madness as servant to Charles Pillsbury, whose delivery and word choice suggest a fair amount of improvisation. Two police officers (Jake Pillsbury and Alicia Owens) facilitate the ending of the piece. The set, which has featured three wall panels in scarlet and brown throughout, is particularly appropriate here, with removable wood panels on the side of a bedstead standing in for the floorboards in the original story. Props (by Windi Key) and costumes (by Dawn Berlo) help maintain the period feel in this and the other stories.

New London’s production (its last mainstage adult production, at least in this performance space) adequately conveys the gothic horror of four of Poe’s stories. Director Scott Piehler has done all he can to create a spooky atmosphere and to keep action fluid. The fact that the production doesn’t land more solidly is due partly to the thin script and partly to the inexperience of some cast members. For a Poe fan, though, it’s definitely worth a visit.
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