Jeffrey Combs play Edgar Allen Poe in a 90 minute stage show directed by Stuart Gordon.
Mull that thought over for a little while.
Now, exceed those expectations tenfold.
Structured as if Poe was putting on a show of his work to an eager audience, Poe is at first personable and charming as he interacts with the audience between renditions of THE TELLATALE HEART and a number of his poems. Sadly, his mood grows increasingly dourer as the show progresses, which isn’t helped at all the rye he keeps chugging, till it all reaches a thunderous emotional breaking point.
Poe is played with mind numbing brilliance by Jeffrey Combs, who completely loses himself behind a subtle make-up job, a period costume and a accent. To steal from another critic, Combs does not seem to be playing Poe, but is channelling him from behind the grave. His performance, which goes from charming to desperation, is so mesmerizing that an audience member could easily watch it for hours on end. Impeccably directed, praise must also be directed to the script by long time Gordon collaborator Dennis Paoli which never drags and carefully keeps the audience perfectly intertwined around the performer’s wishes.
You may think that you’ve heard every kind of reading for such dusty classics as THE RAVEN, but trust me, have not heard an Poe story till you’ve heard it performed by Jeffrey Combs.