One night in the life of Edgar Allen Poe, renowned American poet and global ancestor of the horror genre as we know it: we follow an original tale of Poe’s brief stay in Moyamensing prison, to “dry out” after Poe drunkenly mistakes a police officer for something much worse. The crux of this interesting concept is the blurring of this factual event with the twisted imaginings of the writer, depicted here as a guilt-ridden fantasist. Marty Ross has certainly gone some way to doing Poe’s style and genre justice in his creation of this piece, though the writing is noticeably better than the performance.
There is a determined correlation with the work of Poe, whether merely drawing on a sense of incoming doom or specific figures and stories.
The accomplished playwright, a successful radio drama author, is also our singular actor, and does little but run through miles of an indistinct gabble. Twinned with aimless, endless, melodramatic gesticulation, hardly choreographed, the effect of his performance is more akin to a fly you can’t swat away from your eyes or ears – or even a man condemned to the same fate. Tech, too, seems to have only two states: normal white light, scary red light.
Nonetheless, the story grips you the more you can ignore the actor delivering it. There is a determined correlation with the work of Poe, whether merely drawing on a sense of incoming doom or specific figures and stories. The narrative manages to map out a complex and thoughtfully connected psychological state, intertwining sinister or unexplained parts of Poe’s writing with the man’s true history and family.
A short story on paper may well have worked better than this dramatic offering. But if you can get past the practical issues, there is a crafted story here you might want to hear.