Poe! Poe! (Theatre Geo; 99 seats; $ 15 top) Pearl Prods. presents a play in two acts by Willard Simms and Glenn M. Benest. Directed by Steven Benson. Lighting, Matthew Rauchberg; costumes, Cathy Ford. Opened May 18; reviewed May 25; runs through June 22. Running time: 2 hours. Cast: Anthony Skordi (Edgar Allan Poe), Jacquelyn Riggs (Elizabeth/Nurse), David St. James (John Allan/Dr. Moran), Michael Erger (Karl), Marla Cotovsky (Mildred), King Stuart (Roger), Emil Alexander (Larry), Jennifer Kays (Trisha/Virginia), Ryan Anders (Young Edgar), Laura Julian (Mrs. Elkins/Mrs. Allan), Rebecca Marcotte (Mrs. Smythe/Widow). At age 40, the seminal American literary giant Edgar Allan Poe was found unconscious on a Baltimore street and subsequently died on October 7, 1849, from what a local newspaper called "congestion of the brain." Willard Simms and Glenn M. Benest have imagined that Poe (Anthony Skordi) was picked up by authorities and spent the last four days of his life as a patient/inmate of the Washington Hospital for the Destitute and Deranged. Under Steven Benson's skillful direction, an outstanding 11-member ensemble flows through the great writer's realities and fantasies as Poe tries to convince his keepers that he is not insane, all the while being overwhelmed by the demons of his own psyche. Simms and Benest admirably balance Poe's predicament ---dealing with a warmly sympathetic but disbelieving nurse (Jacquelyn Riggs) and the totally dismissive Dr. Moran (David St. James) --- with the enveloping memories of his life. It begins with visions of his poverty-stricken childhood (Ryan Anders plays the young Poe) with his sickly singer mother (Riggs), who died when he was very young. With the quintet of hospital inmates (Michael Erger, Marla Cotovsky, King Stuart, Emil Alexander, Jennifer Kays) seamlessly evolving into the visions of Poe's mind, the production evokes Poe's unsuccessful past dealings with the world around him, including his devastating relationship with his adoptive father, John Allan (St. James), his constant battles with editors and publishers , and his marriage to his 13-year-old first cousin, Virginia (Kays). Poe's dealings with the hospital and its administration are not nearly as interesting or dramatic as his forays into the past; and his philosophical banter with the inflexible Dr. Moran gets redundant. However, it does serve to lighten the mood. The only fun Poe has is when he sets out to wreak havoc on the hospital's modus operandi, culminating in his binding and gagging Dr. Moran and convincing a pair of potential patrons (Laura Julian and Rebecca Marcotte) that Poe is the doctor and Dr. Moran is the lunatic. Skordi is a deeply moving and involving Poe, who literally becomes engulfed by the dark, inner workings of his mind. Riggs' duo portrayals of Poe's mother and nurse burst with a glowing vitality that surrounds anyone in her presence. Also deserving praise are St. James' thoroughly realized portrayals of Poe's adoptive father and Dr. Moran. And special mention has to be made of Kays' beautifully fragile performances as Poe's child bride and the mute inmate, Trisha. Enhancing the flow of this work are the well-executed lighting design of Matthew Rauchberg and very workable, modular set that goes uncredited. Lending perfect authenticity to the proceedings are the period costumes of Cathy Ford.

Poe! Poe! (Theatre Geo; 99 seats; $ 15 top) Pearl Prods. presents a play in two acts by Willard Simms and Glenn M. Benest. Directed by Steven Benson. Lighting, Matthew Rauchberg; costumes, Cathy Ford. Opened May 18; reviewed May 25; runs through June 22. Running time: 2 hours. Cast: Anthony Skordi (Edgar Allan Poe), Jacquelyn Riggs (Elizabeth/Nurse), David St. James (John Allan/Dr. Moran), Michael Erger (Karl), Marla Cotovsky (Mildred), King Stuart (Roger), Emil Alexander (Larry), Jennifer Kays (Trisha/Virginia), Ryan Anders (Young Edgar), Laura Julian (Mrs. Elkins/Mrs. Allan), Rebecca Marcotte (Mrs. Smythe/Widow). At age 40, the seminal American literary giant Edgar Allan Poe was found unconscious on a Baltimore street and subsequently died on October 7, 1849, from what a local newspaper called “congestion of the brain.” Willard Simms and Glenn M. Benest have imagined that Poe (Anthony Skordi) was picked up by authorities and spent the last four days of his life as a patient/inmate of the Washington Hospital for the Destitute and Deranged. Under Steven Benson’s skillful direction, an outstanding 11-member ensemble flows through the great writer’s realities and fantasies as Poe tries to convince his keepers that he is not insane, all the while being overwhelmed by the demons of his own psyche. Simms and Benest admirably balance Poe’s predicament —dealing with a warmly sympathetic but disbelieving nurse (Jacquelyn Riggs) and the totally dismissive Dr. Moran (David St. James) — with the enveloping memories of his life. It begins with visions of his poverty-stricken childhood (Ryan Anders plays the young Poe) with his sickly singer mother (Riggs), who died when he was very young. With the quintet of hospital inmates (Michael Erger, Marla Cotovsky, King Stuart, Emil Alexander, Jennifer Kays) seamlessly evolving into the visions of Poe’s mind, the production evokes Poe’s unsuccessful past dealings with the world around him, including his devastating relationship with his adoptive father, John Allan (St. James), his constant battles with editors and publishers , and his marriage to his 13-year-old first cousin, Virginia (Kays). Poe’s dealings with the hospital and its administration are not nearly as interesting or dramatic as his forays into the past; and his philosophical banter with the inflexible Dr. Moran gets redundant. However, it does serve to lighten the mood. The only fun Poe has is when he sets out to wreak havoc on the hospital’s modus operandi, culminating in his binding and gagging Dr. Moran and convincing a pair of potential patrons (Laura Julian and Rebecca Marcotte) that Poe is the doctor and Dr. Moran is the lunatic. Skordi is a deeply moving and involving Poe, who literally becomes engulfed by the dark, inner workings of his mind. Riggs’ duo portrayals of Poe’s mother and nurse burst with a glowing vitality that surrounds anyone in her presence. Also deserving praise are St. James’ thoroughly realized portrayals of Poe’s adoptive father and Dr. Moran. And special mention has to be made of Kays’ beautifully fragile performances as Poe’s child bride and the mute inmate, Trisha. Enhancing the flow of this work are the well-executed lighting design of Matthew Rauchberg and very workable, modular set that goes uncredited. Lending perfect authenticity to the proceedings are the period costumes of Cathy Ford.

Poe! Poe!

Theatre Geo; 99 seats; $15 top; Opened May 18

Production

Pearl Prods. presents a play in two acts by Willard Simms and Glenn M. Benest. Directed by Steven Benson

Creative

Lighting, Matthew Rauchberg; costumes, Cathy Ford. Opened May 18; reviewed May 25; runs through June 22. Running time: 2 hours.

Cast

Anthony Skordi (Edgar Allan Poe), Jacquelyn Riggs (Elizabeth/Nurse), David St. James (John Allan/Dr. Moran), Michael Erger (Karl), Marla Cotovsky (Mildred), King Stuart (Roger), Emil Alexander (Larry), Jennifer Kays (Trisha/Virginia), Ryan Anders (Young Edgar), Laura Julian (Mrs. Elkins/Mrs. Allan), Rebecca Marcotte (Mrs. Smythe/Widow).

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