Review: NIGHTFALL WITH EDGAR ALLAN POE at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg

Nightfall is perfect for the spooky season.

By: Oct. 16, 2022
Review: NIGHTFALL WITH EDGAR ALLAN POE at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg
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Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston in 1809. A master of short stories, as well as poetry, Poe is a central figure of American literature and is widely studied, especially in the fiction genre of Gothic horror. Many are probably familiar with his poems such as "The Raven", "The Bells", and "Annabel Lee", as well as short stories such as "The Cask of Amontillado", "The Masque of the Red Death", and "The Premature Burial". In Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe, playwright Eric Coble introduces us to a Poe who is struggling with questions of his own sanity as he presents the audience with an adaptation of four of his best works: "The Raven", "The Fall of the House of Usher", "The Pit and the Pendulum", and "The Tell-Tale Heart". This spine-tingling look at Poe and his works comes to Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg under the direction of Mandi L. Hurley with stage manager Bobby Zaccano through October 30th.

The simple and stark set (designed by Mandi L. Hurley) and costumes (designed by Mary Geraci) are perfectly designed to elevate the feelings of anticipation, fear, and suspense as the characters explore questions of heartbreak, loss, death, and madness. The black and white color scheme allows the actors to be the focus of the scene, while the lighting and sound effects (designed by Stephen Hensel and Bobby Zaccano) highlight the action and emotions in each story. There are some amazing elements to this production, particularly in "The Fall of the House of Usher" that words cannot capture.

The cast features Anthony J. Geraci as Poe; Slayter Booth as Edgar and a Judge; Essa Dinges as Roderick Usher, a Judge, and Old Man; Duffy Batzer as The Raven, a Soldier, and Policeman #2; and Annie Hart as Madeline Usher, Sante, and Policeman #1. Every actor in this cast infuses their characters with an intensity that is mesmerizing.

Their performance of "The Raven" is flawless, with Booth, Dinges, and Hart keeping their faces and voices intense but relatively free of emotion while Geraci paints a picture of Poe as a deeply emotional, heartbroken man teetering on the brink of sanity. Batzer really shines in her portrayal of The Raven with her birdlike movements.

"The Fall of the House of Usher" is particularly unsettling as Hart flits across the stage like a ghost, and Dinges and Booth display their characters' fraying mental and emotional states as the darkness of the house infects them. Booth does a phenomenal job on the monologues in this scene, breaking the fourth wall to give the audience important insight into the mind of Edgar, constantly asking the question, "why am I here?".

One of the most unique adaptations in the performance is "The Pit and the Pendulum", which features Geraci portraying Poe as he attempts to write the story and Hart as the main character. The central question of how one may die illustrates many of humanity's deepest fears-fear of darkness, confinement, things that are unseen and unknowable. Geraci and Hart demonstrate wonderful emotional depth as they face these universal questions and fears through this story.

Finally, the audience sees Poe completely unravel in "The Tell-Tale Heart" as he takes on the role of the main character who commits the murder of the Old Man. Geraci's Poe becomes increasing frantic as the story moves forward, playing the part with a nervous energy, particularly when faced with the quirky policemen (played by Hart and Batzer).

If you enjoy the works of Poe and that spine-tingling feeling of a good horror story, Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe is the play for you. Join this tremendous cast at Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg for an unique evening of thrilling tales perfect for the spooky season. Visit for information on the show and tickets.

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