BWW Review: POE AND ALL THE OTHERS at Annapolis Shakespeare Company is a Creative Ghost Story about Baltimore's Favorite Storyteller
Annapolis Shakespeare Company's (ASC) POE AND ALL THE OTHERS imagines Edgar Allan Poe in a literal fever dream visited by lost loves and family. Poe - as played by Brian Keith MacDonald - is at times reliving wonderful moments and at times arguing with figments of his fever-addled imagination. His long dead mother, his recently dead wife, even characters from the grim stories he told all visit him while he lay in his hospital bed. The performance is full of fast-talking speeches, and references to Poe's macabre world. The two performers - everyone except Poe was played by Olivia Ercolano - handled the dark material beautifully.
As I don't count myself a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, his world has always been a bit of a mystery to me. However, in about one hour I was surprised at just how much I learned from these performers. The show - written by Tony Tsendeas - took many twists and turns along the way - much like Poe's actual life. It was easy to imagine Poe on his death bed having these same conversations with himself. It's also sad to imagine a man that was so tortured throughout his life by inner demons, being tortured at death as well.
The feelings of sympathy and concern for the character of Poe would not have been possible in such a short time (the show is only an hour) without the masterful work of Brian Keith MacDonald. His Poe was manic and angry. But during those times, when he was reliving the stories he'd written, he became more relaxed, as if the storied world he'd created, was happier than the real one he was living in. MacDonald was able to recite the dialogue quickly with ease and managed to make his long speeches interesting and new. In short, he embodied Poe perfectly.
His scene partner - Olivia Ercolano - had the difficult job of portraying multiple characters changing often at a fast clip - from men to women or from angry to loving. She slipped into and out of character with ease, often switching up accents from Scottish to American and back again, in just a few moments. She and MacDonald worked well together. Both are phenomenal actors, who performed what I'm sure is a difficult show with grace. What I'm most impressed by is that they both were able to perform in this show - memorizing an hour's worth of dialogue and emotion - while also taking on acting duties in the phenomenal MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Impressive, indeed!
In Maryland, there's no more popular writer than Poe. The love for his macabre stories, only grows around Halloween when everyone's itching for a good ghost story. As such, POE AND ALL THE OTHERS is the perfect dark and dreary story for this time of year. With minimal staging and lighting effects, the actors brought to life one of the great storytellers of our time, while still managing to give the audience something creative and new.
This limited run, will play the Annapolis Shakespeare Company's Cabaret space for only 2 more performances (October 30 and November 1). Be sure to get your tickets fast. After those dates, the performance will play nevermore.