This is a spectacular butchering of Poe. As I walk in everything seems quite promising. Statue like figures are placed among the pews. Chiming, clicking and eerily loud breathing fills the air and the church setting promises a chilling performance. Sadly, aside from names and other vague references this is where any resemblance ends. They claim to have ‘based’ the performance on the work of Poe, but I left marvelling on how loosely this term can be employed.
William sits on stage amid the whirring sounds in the air, telling his tale of woe and subsequent solitude. He gains a visitor every-time the clock chimes. Each of them trails a brutally maimed snippet of one of Poe’s stories. Where is the macabre atmosphere, the gothic and the tension? Every new tale adds to the general confusion and no true narrative is achieved, as there is too much going on. The only thing aptly presented is a disagreement between the cast as to which story to choose, an argument which was clearly never resolved. The acting ability is a mixed bag. The more major roles perform well, but an intermittent problem across the board is a lack of annunciation.
The most offensive scene is their re-jigging of ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’. Lord Usher and his sister Madeline visit William. What follows is appalling, with the ‘ill’ Madeline flirty and petulant (for most of the original she is supposedly dead). While Lord Usher does not display the psychological illness central to the story and is acted with the shrill vigour reminiscent of a school play.
Their saving grace is beautiful singing. The four actresses harmonise sublimely and I could not understand why they had not used these talents more. They also try out a more physical kind of theatre, with less success. Their acrobatics are clumsy in places and I could not see the relevance. Added like a cherry on top, there is no real thought as to the interaction with the stories.
If they tone it down, use just one or two stories and utilise their truly angelic voices this could have potential, but there needs to be some ruthless decision making and a lot of thought to tempt me back to another performance.