Last night my class went to the Barbican Theatre to see the first performance of "Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe."
The musical comprises a complete biography of Edgar Allan Poe, ending with his death and beginning with his parents, pictured above from the Barbican website. Keep in mind that part of the title is that it is the "Imaginary Life" of Poe, however, because some parts of the biography are somewhat obviously stretched. I'm pretty sure that Poe did not try to kill his pet kitten with an axe at the age of 6, as he attempts to do so in the play. This is a dark comedy horror musical. The only setting is a set of metal screens (the frames of which are visible in the above picture), which slide back and forth. The costumes are comprised of a simple black and white outfit for each player (there are seven total, three women and four men), and then all but the actor who plays Poe (who is on stage the entire time as Poe) switch in and out of extra accessories and props which demonstrate which character they are currently playing. The ruff is the characteristic of Poe's father, and that certain bonnet and wire skirt belong to Poe's mother, whose death literally haunts him throughout the play. Poe's work has been weaved into the making of this biography in many different ways, some more recognizable than others, such as The Telltale Heart's horror of the heartbeat and single eye in the person of Poe's stern and unbending stepfather Jock Allan, from whom Poe gets his middle name. Since the people dearest to Poe drop like flies from TB or, in the case of his stepmother, from insanely believing they are a bird and dropping from a high window, and this play delights in the disturbing, horrifying and haunting, I would not advise for any child to see this play. However, if you don't mind the horror elements and love dark humor, costume ingenuity in a "steampunk" style, Edgar Allen Poe, or anything Tim Burton-esque, then this is the play for you. Nevermore will be making its New York City debut in October at the New Victory Theater.
images courtesy of the Barbican website