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Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe

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Drawing by Joe Kubert | kubertschool.edu Drawing by Joe Kubert | kubertschool.edu

Sometimes you find a production that has perfect symmetry. A very rare occurrence where everything melds together to bring you an amazing piece of art that once you have experienced it, you will never ever forget.

This is the case with Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe.  The play is a mixture of poetry, music and dance.  A masterful telling of the maudlin induced, tragically stricken writer and poet, Edgar Allan Poe, that will move you emotionally and sensually through its haunted hallways of inequity.  If you are not shaken by its sadness or frightened by its madness than you will be at awe at its brilliant innovation.  The imagery will permeate your senses as the actors serenade you with melancholic lullabies of tragedy and woe.  It is a gloomy sojourn full of powerful, raw operatic emotion.  This is avant-garde theatre at its finest.

The director, writer and composer, Jonathan Christenson, following his great success with his version of Frankenstein in 2006 created this even darker presentation based on the life of Edgar Allen Poe.  Jonathan had been intrigued with the secret life of Poe for a very long time.  Poe seemed to have reinvented himself many times over and would come up with different variations of who he was depending on the situation.  Many of his biographies have been completely fictional as it seems no one has all the factual details on this critically acclaimed, deeply troubled man who gave us such memorable pieces of literature such as the Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven.  As Poe wrote himself, 'you will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.'  Jonathan's journey to learn about Poe's life has obviously taken him down the path where he has been influenced with gothic imagery and melancholy that has helped him to create what I feel is his magnum opus to date.  If Jonathan hasn't also been inspired by Tim Burton then he definitely has the same distorted perceptions that create a creepy, disturbing vision that will stay branded in your mind's eye for a lifetime.

"He was tormented by nightmarish hallucinations and haunted by memories that were no less real to him than the fact of his existence.  Nevermore is a version of Poe's story that unfolds according to the logic of dreams, where the lines between his life and his work remain fluid." Jonathan Christenson

The production designer, Bretta Gerecke, has an incredible prowess for design as the costumes and the props look liked stunning pieces of sculptured, architectural art.  They were as much a part of the show as the actors themselves.  I was not prepared to see such an exquisite sight as the decadence of the costumes in front of a simplistic, black lace backdrop.  It made the production all the more chilling as you focused on the distinct personalities of each heart breaking character.  Nothing else was necessary as this aided the audience in using the most terrifying tool of all, the horror of our imaginations.  The black and white montage gave the sense of antiquity.  It was any Goths dream wardrobe pushed to the surreal that left you enchanted and delighted with the mix of Victorian, turn of the century, modern gothic attire with a dash of exaggeration.  The amalgamation of different eras seemed to blend together perfectly to create a fantastical world of dreamlike quality.  The fabric caught the many colored stage lights adding to the spookiness of each scene and the clothing seemed to flow with the actors movements creating a fluid pantomime of the macabre.  It was perfectly fashionable for anyone's hallucination.

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Featured writer

Kirsty Evans

Kirsty is a longtime freelance journalist and former alt-weekly editor who joined the Gothic Beauty staff in 2011. A veteran of the London and Glasgow goth scenes and quintessential Third Culture kid, she grew up in the Middle East, Asia, Scotland, and the US.



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gothic, goth, edgar allan poe, catalyst theatre, nevermore the imaginary life and mysterious death