Sunday, October 10, 2010

Edgar, Adapted

 As a longtime friend of Edgar Allan Poe, I've come in contact with a few adaptations of his work. There's quite a bit out there. One of the most popular writers (period), there is never a shortage of inspired books, graphic novels, music and film that seeks to adapt the master of mystery and macabre into a new form. When these adaptations turn to the dramatic, I'm personally always eager to view the attempt-- and almost always disappointed with the result. And even when I do get something out of an adaption on film, I never fail to be left with the impression that something's missing. Something only Edgar's brilliantly crafted work can provide. 

 Last Thursday, on the anniversary of the writer's death, I saw "Nevermore: An exPOEration" by the Brazen-Faced Varlets, a dramatic ensemble company in Buffalo, New York. Billed as simply that, a dramatic exploration of Poe's work, I did not know what to expect. And was immensely surprised. For nearly two hours in theater space in the back of a wonderful second-hand book shop, a handful of female actors put on a seamless ride through Edgar's work. Opening with a very clever interpretation of "The Raven," the narrative paused at points, and turned to dramatic presentations of Poe's work. These included full-bodied narratives of such as "Annabel Lee," "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," as well as perfect presentations of Edgar's poetry, including "The Bells" and "Alone." 

 It is difficult to describe the experience of this theater to someone who has not experienced it. But the dramatic work these women did was absolutely stellar. In a small area of space and time, the experience of short stories like "The Tell-Tale Heart" was brought to life with all the old man's fear, and the dread, the reader feels when reading the words on paper. And that's a damn good adaptation, in my book. One that I know was created because these strong actors used Edgar's own words as a base-- something any and all future adaptations can note a lesson from. 

 So, tonight. I give you one of my favorite recitations of "The Raven" - read by actor Christopher Walken. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting show. I agree with you--adaptations of Poe's work are generally pretty wretched (and, usually, have almost nothing to do with his original writings.)