Edgar Allan Poe and Sigmund Freud, partners in crime, telling horror stories and picking them apart: it sounds like rich source material, but
A dark and gothic storytelling hour that’s perfect for a rainy day in Edinburgh.
Poe and Freud introduce the show for us. It’s a curious set up, given that Poe died some seven years before Freud was born, but a pairing that makes sense, at least from the point of view of literary interpretation: Poe’s works are certainly a treasure trove for psychoanalysts. Conversations between the two form the framework of the hour, during which time we are presented with three scary stories - involving spiders, séances and mysterious letters - which are then deconstructed by Freud, giving a cursory attempt at psychoanalysis. It’s an original premise, and allows for some classic Oedipus complex jokes, but we are left feeling that there is a lot more interesting material to mine out of the Poe/Freud juxtaposition.
The stories are certainly, as promised, chilling. They feel more like dark and grizzly cautionary tales than anything genuinely terrifying, but they are certainly masterfully told, and the production is very stylish. Injections of physical theatre keep the storytelling slick - the choreography is clever and faultlessly executed - and Victorian costumes keep everything feeling spooky and gothic. The music, too, is atmospheric, and the cast chip in with their own sound effects to create the creepy locations: graveyards, backstreets and haunted houses all feature. The whole show is polished and precise.
It’s also, for the most part, well acted. Though there are some standouts, the actors are consistent and versatile, each playing several characters with ease; there is a particularly funny wigmaker, a menacing mystic and a forlorn lover.
Mr Poe’s Legendarium is based on a very promising premise, and, though the company could push their ideas even further, does make for a successful and entertaining show. A dark and gothic storytelling hour that’s perfect for a rainy day in Edinburgh.