Sunday, August 23, 2009

An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe in Hollywood

Ever play that game that starts "if you could meet any historical personage, who would it be?" My list would include Charles Darwin, H.P. Lovecraft, Janna Levin and yes, Edgar Allen Poe. Too bad all but one of them are long gone!

Spend an evening at The Center for Inquiry's Steve Allen Theater, though, and you may come away believing that you really have been in the presence of Mr. Poe himself.  The play is called NEVERMORE and it is the most fun I have ever had watching a one-man show. 

Written by Dennis Paoli, directed by Stewart Gordon, and realized by Jeffery Combs, its horror-nerd pedigree is impeccable. The perhaps surprising thing is that it really is funny, tragic, and entertaining. The premise revolves around the idea of Poe doing a reading of his works, as he indeed often did during his short lifetime. This format allows for a wonderful renditions of some of his short stories and poetry, as well as many digressions about his life, ambitions, and failures. 

Horror fans may recall that Mr. Gordon, Mr. Paoli, and Mr. Combs have teamed up for a similar project in the past: the Master's of Horror episode THE BLACK CAT. The play in some ways extends the idea and inverts it, giving you a more intimate portrait of the man and his work. The functional, sparse set allows Combs the freedom to do what he does best: physically embody the character without restriction. Yes, his acting is "big", but it is never tiresome or ineffective. 

Am I a biased fan who would love anything these folks put out? Well, maybe. REANIMATOR remains in my horror movie top five, and I adore Combs in pretty much everything I've seen him in. The fact that The 4400 was canceled, robbing me of seeing him as Dr. Kevin Burkhoff, still rankles. That said, there are ever so many ways that a project like this play could have gone off the rails into self-parody or worse. Instead, what we have here is an absolute joy to watch. And, lucky you, it's been extended through September. So if you live in SoCal, go see for yourself!


  1. I think I prefer the bunny. Not such a horror fan. My life is filled with enough adrenalin :)

  2. Haha, it is a funny juxtaposition, now that you mention it! :)

  3. Oh I love Poe! Sounds like an awesome show!


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