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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Think You Know Your Poe? Frazier History Museum May Surprise You!

Tony Dingman and Kelly Moore in An Evening of Poe.
Photo – Frazier History Museum.


An Evening with Poe

By Edgar Allan Poe
Staged and performed by Kelly Moore, Eric Frantz & Tony Dingman

Reviewed by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2013 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

An Evening of Poe? Sounds like fun. You imagine stiff recitations and a gloomy mood. Perfect for the Halloween season. Sounds easy and unchallenging, right? Except the creative team behind this production want to ask a little bit more of you as an audience.

For three years now, members of the Interpretations staff at The Frazier History Museum have delivered this intelligent exploration of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The great Romantic poet, creator of the detective story, and one of the most influential writers of the modern age is here given his due by a tidy team of three actors. It could be said that most everyone knows Poe. But how well? From being quoted in late 1970s pop songs? From classic horror films starring Vincent Price? From that one high school reading assignment? If you are looking for some deeper understanding from time spent seeing some of his lesser known works come to life in front of you, this is the show for you.

Combining a sense of humor and a preoccupation with the morbid, his macabre wit is fertile ground for inventive theatre. Eric Frantz delivers a straightforward but nicely textured recitation of Anabel Lee; Tony Dingman’s rendering of The Tell Tale Heart is a great, frightening story told with enough force to raise some goosebumps; and Kelly Moore's eccentric delivery of her lines during The Raven assuredly indicate themes of mental aberration that are characteristic of so much of Poe's work. Later, a curious note of sly humor and even whimsy was allowed in the chant-like rhythms of The Bells.

But it is in the presentation of two longer pieces – one familiar, one less so – that this production finds its power. M.S. Found in a Bottle is a ghost story from the high seas that allows Mr. Dingman ample opportunity to showcase his talents. Backed by atmospheric sound and musical effects by Moore, Frantz and Mick Sullivan from The Tamerlane Trio, it is a potent performance.

The evening climaxes in a lengthy realization of The Fall of the House of Usher, the most elaborately staged and boldly conceived piece. All three actors rise to the occasion, and the dark and compelling story is given a rich and unorthodox life that honors the tradition of Poe while expanding its impact with dance and expressionistc lighting.

The material is interspersed with music from The Tamerlane Trio (Mick Sullivan, Amber Estes-Thieneman and Rob Collier), whose dour and restrained performance of several classic American folk songs and some original compositions were perfectly in step with the tone of the evening and provided additional value to an already worthwhile program.

An Evening with Poe

October 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31; November 1 & 2, 2013

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on all performance days except October 23 and 30. The October 23 and 30 performances will have an 8 p.m. start time due to late business hours for “The Eye of Napoleon.” Performances are approximately two hours.

Tickets are just $15 and include admission to the museum’s permanent galleries. Cash bar. To purchase tickets, call (502) 753-5663 or visit
www.fraizermuseum.com.

Frazier History Museum
829 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202

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