How It Tells Of The Rapture That Impels (Review of Edgar)
Springfield, OH – Springfield StageWorks kicked off its 2011-12 season this past weekend with the world premiere of EDGAR: A Mesmeric Passage Into The Life of Edgar Allen Poe. Going in, I truly had very little clue what I was about to experience. The brain-child of creator and director Wayne Justice, EDGAR is a darkly beautiful multimedia production – the first portion of which is a short documentary, narrated by Dayton Public Radio host, Larry Coressel, and silently illustrated by dramatic reenactments starring several local actors. They provide an authentic backdrop to the story which reveals Poe to be an incredibly unfortunate man – he lost many friends and loved ones to tuberculosis and consumption. It was as though he could never truly be happy; as though he simply wasn’t meant to know happiness. Mental decay blossomed and eventually gave way to physical illness – Poe died of unknown causes at the age of 39, but it has been widely speculated that alcohol played a significant role in his eventual death. The film is simply lovely on a stand-alone basis, but there was much more to follow.
After the film had ended, a live, ever-changing performance began. Shane Smith took to the stage as the infamous author, noticeably carrying with him the weight of a man who had lost everyone who had ever meant anything to him – a man on the verge of madness, appearing quite sane. He and Wayne Justice gave a witty and macabre presentation of ‘The Cask of Amontillado’. Andrea Klinker delivered a brilliant rendition of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, showcasing a desperately mad personality, with seemingly no hope for any form of normalcy.
This was no small feat – one could call the story ‘the mother of all monologues’. Sufficiently creepy, to say the least, every line had its own weight, every movement a nervous energy. Throughout the live production, Wayne Justice would happily walk onstage and deliver a stanza of ‘The Bells’.
EDGAR has been stewing around in the inner sanctum of Justice’s brain for many years, and it shows. The costumes were simple, but well thought out. The set, simple yet evocative. Lighting played a significant role in the mood of each scene and moved from one hue or shadow to another almost imperceptibly.
StageWorks presented the world premiere of this unique production for two nights only. If you were unfortunate enough to miss it, fear not! The Clifton Performance Theatre will be hosting two performances, September 23 & 24, 2011 at 8pm. The theatre is located at 404 Ludlow Ave, Cincinnati OH 45220. Call 513-861-SHOW for further information.