Tales From Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe
Backhand Theatre with South Hill Park Arts Centre and C theatre

More often that not, one realises that at the Fringe, the play is usually far more important than the staging. Never has this been clearer than at Tales of Edgar Allen Poe.

Upon arriving in the theatre, I was stunned by how much effort had gone into the sets onstage, with a towering set of gothic gates and columns which were manipulated round the stage to provide changing locations. Moreover, the costumes, the props and rigging for the acrobatic rings were all above and beyond the usual Fringe fare. It's a shame then that the play itself never managed to come close to meeting the effort involved in the staging.

The concept was an interesting one admittedly: an auditor travelling to a far flung madhouse to ensure the patients are being treated properly, encountering characters and situations from Poe in the manias of the inmates he observes. However it's the linking of these Poe segments that falls apart, as the Doctor, Nurse and Orderly are are all so obviously twisted and strange, and the auditor himself being intrusive that it's clear from the get go how it will all turn out.

What's worse, the final third of the play revolves around a long, repetitive and frankly dull scene which seems to exist only to give the cast something to do. A pity then as the actors acquit themselves with reasonable aplomb, and the physical theatre is great.

Leading us to only wish that the script had been more tightly knit into something that feels like it is actually going somewhere.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan

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