On Saturday night, I ventured up to Park Circle for Theatre Verv‘s production of Poe: The Conqueror Worm. It was a perfectly creepy evening for some Poe, and set the stage for an excellent Halloween weekend.
In residence at the South of Broadway Theatre, Verv is putting on “cutting-edge contemporary theatre.” Poe was an interesting, fast paced mash up of writings by the most tortured of artists, Edgar Allen Poe. The cast worked their magic quickly, forcing the audience to keep up. This works for and against the production: there’s no chance of nodding off during a scene that is slowly marching on, but this might not be a good introduction for a novice.
While many of Poe’s short stories were visited, The Tell-Tale Heart was the most outstanding. The lunatic widow, played by Dallas Corbett, brought me in, and kept me hanging on each sentence. The story of phantom heartbeats, guilty conscience and madness was well communicated.
The Madam, Sarah Coe, was a particularly engaging character, neither under- nor over-acted. Her control over the other characters was apparent and perfect. The Songbird, played by Carole Moore, has a lovely voice that served the part well. Compliments on her arrangement of the melody for The Sleeper. David Barr as The Barker made you feel like Poe himself had joined us for the evening, all the way from his cold grave in Baltimore.
Set design was minimal and communicative, and the cast made the most of the black-box theatre. Action happened all around you, which served to heighten the creepiness of Poe’s tales. The threat of danger moved all around you, slinking and shrieking, closing in on you.
There are three more performances of Poe: the Conqueror Worm this weekend, and I suggest you make a Park Circle night with dinner at EVO or Sesame (get the Memphis burger–peanut butter, bananas and bacon! The King would be proud) before heading to see Poe.
Poe: The Conqueror Worm by Theatre Verv, in residence at South of Broadway Theatre, 1080 East Montague Ave, North Charleston. Thursday – Saturday, November 4, 5 & 6, at 8:30 pm. Tickets
Adapted and Directed by JC Conway and Mark Gorman. Cast: David Barr, Jelena Zerega, Sarah Coe, Stephen Linn, Dallas Corbett, Ron Johnson, Carole Moore. The Tale-Tell Heart adapted by Richard Valiton. Set Design by Mark Gorman. Lighting Design by JC Conway.