Tag Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

One Man Poe

One Man Poe

★★★

The Space

One Man Poe

One Man Poe

The Space

Reviewed – 19th October 2021

★★★

 

“One Man Poe’s strong points are definitely the sounds—not just Smith’s flexible voice skills, but also Joseph Furey’s music and sound design”

 

The London Horror Festival is once again bringing chills and thrills across the metropolitan area, even if the pandemic means a pared down festival this year. One Man Poe, performed by Stephen Smith at the suitably spooky Space in London’s East End, is one of several offerings for the 2021 Halloween season. It’s hard to find a writer more accomplished in the horror genre than Edgar Allan Poe—and there’s a reason why this American nineteenth century writer is still widely read and enjoyed today, despite the archaic language, and the dictionary workout his words will give you. Based on three of Poe’s best known stories, and one very well known poem, One Man Poe is a no-brainer of a choice for the Festival by Smith and the Threedumb Theatre Company.

Nevertheless, One Man Poe is a bit of a misnomer. This piece, clocking in at one hundred and forty minutes (including the interval) is not so much a play, as a staged performance of Poe’s stories by Smith. And while Smith’s is the only voice on stage throughout the show, he is not always the only person there. Assisted by Jack Hesketh as a doctor in one story, and as a policeman in another, Smith performs The Tell-Tale Heart; The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Black Cat. The Raven, Poe’s signature poem, is the final piece that sets the seal on an evening of blood chilling revelations.

Smith does have a great voice for these kind of stories, and his presentation is appropriate, if verging on the melodramatic. But then, the Victorians did appreciate a good melodrama. Smith’s diction is clear and measured, allowing the audience to relish Poe’s language. It’s overkill, then, to project the words on the back of the stage, above the actor’s head, for the whole performance. It is a distraction the audience could do without, and dispensing with them might also allow the lighting designer (Eddie Stephens) to shine a bit more light on the proceedings on stage without obscuring the text on the wall. One Man Poe’s strong points are definitely the sounds—not just Smith’s flexible voice skills, but also Joseph Furey’s music and sound design. Kudos also to dramaturgs Amber Buttery, Amy Roberts, Jonah York and Rebecca Phythian for the thoughtful support and programme notes. But the overall effect of One Man Poe is to make one wonder if the show would not be more powerful if enjoyed at home with the lights off and the amplifiers on.

Fortunately for us, there is one livestream performance on offer, and perhaps there will be more. One Man Poe will be livestreamed on October 21st. Just the ticket for a horrifying evening at home with the family. Or, for the truly brave among you, alone.

 

Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Alya Sayer

 

 

One Man Poe

The Space until 23rd October as part of London Horror Festival 2021

 

More shows reviewed this month:
Dumbledore Is So Gay | ★★½ | Online | October 2021
Back To The Future | ★★★★ | Adelphi Theatre | October 2021
Roots | ★★★★★ | Wilton’s Music Hall | October 2021
The Witchfinder’s Sister | ★★★ | Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch | October 2021
Rice | ★★★★ | Orange Tree Theatre | October 2021
The Cherry Orchard | ★★★★ | Theatre Royal Windsor | October 2021
Love And Other Acts Of Violence | ★★★★ | Donmar Warehouse | October 2021
Yellowfin | ★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | October 2021
Brief Encounter | ★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | October 2021

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

The Fetch Wilson

★★★★

Pleasance Theatre

The Fetch Wilson

The Fetch Wilson

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 11th October 2019

★★★★

 

“Mullane begins by winning us over with warm Irish charm, before dropping the temperature of the auditorium as Wilson’s story proceeds”

 

Stewart Roche’s adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe tale is currently showing at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington as part of the 2019 London Horror Festival. The Fetch Wilson is a nicely updated version of the Poe original, and takes place mostly in Ireland, which plays to the strengths of the talented young Dublin company, the Corps Ensemble, which produced it. The title is updated, as is the name of the character telling the story—Liam Wilson—but to explain any further would give the game away in this tautly written psychological thriller. In brief, The Fetch Wilson is a sixty minute monologue about an ordinary man surrounded by people so much more memorable than himself. However, when Wilson discovers his life’s passion through cards then all bets are off. In a series of ever more catastrophic encounters with a mysterious doppelgänger, Wilson is forced to confront the darker corners of his personality, and discover who he really is.

Skilled raconteur Edwin Mullane is the actor playing Liam Wilson, and, directed by Jed Murray, he holds the attention of the audience effortlessly for the entire sixty minutes. Performing on a bare stage decorated by playing cards, and dressed like a dissolute fraternity boy after a particularly awful costume party, Mullane begins by winning us over with warm Irish charm, before dropping the temperature of the auditorium as Wilson’s story proceeds. It’s a treat to watch the way in which he uses Roche’s script to carefully plant the clues that lead to the denouement. Roche also provides him with several lines designed to get laughs, so that there is humour to lighten the scare factor as well. The only weakness—if it can be called a weakness—is how this denouement is managed on stage with only one actor. But it still succeeds in packing the appropriate psychological punch.

The Fetch Wilson is one of the first shows to go up in a promising start to the 2019 London Horror Festival. So if you enjoy theatre designed to explore life’s darker side, then hurry over to Islington for your pre-Hallowe’en fix. You will be happy to hear that there is an abundance of horrific dramas awaiting you at both the Old Red Lion Pub Theatre, and the Pleasance Theatre, until November 2nd.

 

Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Tristan Fennel

 


The Fetch Wilson

Pleasance Theatre until 14th October as part of London Horror Festival

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Call Me Vicky | ★★★ | February 2019
Neck Or Nothing | ★★★★ | April 2019
Night Of The Living Dead Live | ★★★ | April 2019
Don’t Look Away | ★★★½ | May 2019
Regen | ★★★ | May 2019
The Millennials | ★★½ | May 2019
Kill Climate Deniers | ★★★★ | June 2019
It’ll Be Alt-Right On The Night | ★★★★ | September 2019
Midlife Cowboy | ★★★ | September 2019
The Accident Did Not Take Place | ★★ | October 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews