Sunday, 27 November 2011

Poe: Macabre Resurrections

Prepare to be chilled to the marrow. Poe: Macabre Resurrections is a theatrical piece currently being performed at St Mary's Old Church in Stoke Newington, North London. Fans of the macabre and the dark soul of Edgar Allan Poe need to get themselves to this before December 4th - it is so damn good: a) it warrants a non-film entry b) I'm going to use the wanky term coup de theatre for it.

Local group Second Skin theatre has mounted six adaptations of Poe short stories and quite brilliantly matched them to the Old Church setting. As the audience, you are seated in Victorian box pews, in the gothic gloom as if waiting for a sermon. Which is exactly how proceedings begin, with the ministrations of The Preacher. Played with wit and and dark charm by Stephen Gonnery Brown, his character is your compere for the evening; a sort of Vincent Price of the pulpit who literally leads the audience through the various locations of the scenes. I don't want to ruin any surprises but the shadowy recesses of this quite ancient Church are used to full effect, starting with the twisted two-hander The Cask of Amontillado which felt almost like audience participation, so close were we to the seductress with evil intent, nicely played by Sarah Scott.

Two monologues were chillingly delivered in near darkness. An audacious adaptation of The Pit and the Pendulum referenced contemporary anxieties of torture during the war on terror. Prijank Morjaria sustains a magnetic presence for a full twenty-five minutes across four different characters. The Black Cat is introduced with a flourish on the organ. Adapted by Mike Carter with poetry and poise, Mia Zara plays the widow in this feline tale of murder and despair. It's a performance of physicality and fine cadence - really moving.

Elsewhere I don't want to reveal the setting of Premature Burial until people have had a chance to see it, inspired as it was. And the closing fun with The Masque of the Red Death, reminded me of a certain Stanley Kubrick film and had me grinning from ear to ear. I'll say more after the run is over.

Before then, Londoners please try and get to see this, it is something really special. For £12-£14 it is one of most unique theatrical experiences I've been to in recent years.

You can purchase tickets for Poe: Macabre Resurrections here

Check out Christopher Lee reading Poe's The Raven

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