Monday, November 18, 2019

Captivating Experience with The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe at Historic Cheney Mansion

The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe

Yesterday I had the opportunity to see the last performance of “The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story”; a memorable production with poignant and melancholic yet witty concept! Mesmerized by the haunting opening scene with "The Bells", crafted with the use of effective sounds, in an atmospheric space, I was immersed completely into the world of the poet I respect since my teenage years!  The repetition of words, the alliteration and onomatopoeia, the musical imagery, the rhythm of the night, the repeated chiming of the bells throughout the scene, created melodious rhythm, mood and narrative where they all build up a profound, distinct engaging atmosphere.

With creative use of space in Historic Cheney Mansion, actors led the audience members in a journey from room to room, and floor to floor to experience Poe’s evocative/complex stories of fear, horror and love.  Each room emphasizes the experience of a story by Poe on the essence of imprisonment, religious fundamentalism, sickness, murder and love, from “The Telltale Heart” to “The Pit and the Pendulum”.  The essence of each scene shows the unique collaboration between the playwright, director, actors in relation with the space. The scenes are also reminiscent of stories by Dostoevsky, Kafka, Fernando Pessoa and George Bushner. 

The method of using space, reminded me of Anne Bogart’s workshops on acting technique, directing and engaging experiences. It was fascinatingly reminiscent to see how the actors in in this show, used their body in time and space to create a meaningful experience.
All six scenes are enormously memorable. In addition to the theatrical elements, the use of light, sound, setting, music and poetic imagery in scenes such as Virginia in the specious tea room, the prisoner, the murder of the old man, and the presence of "Ligeia", specify a creative approach to poetic cinema such as Jean Cocteau’s!

Actors; especially Christian Gray as Poe and Erica Bittner as his wife Virginia were sensational with their superb acting and singularities. Not to forget to mention the presence of Kevin Tre’Von Patterson as the witty Fortunato/Monk…

‘The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story’
When: Oct. 24- Nov. 17
Where: Oak Park Festival Theatre, Cheney Mansion, 220 N. Euclid Ave., Oak Park

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