Edgar Allan Poe, presented by Force of Nature Productions at Generation DCD Studio in Burbank, is another engaging one-man show performed by actor Duffy Hudson, who charmed us so deeply with his version of A Christmas Carol last year. The 70-minute play mixes autobiographical details with dramatic readings of the author's work. The result touches on horror (particularly in the reading of "The Tell Tale Heart"), but the emphasis is on tragedy and morbid romanticism, expressed through poems mourning lost loved ones ("Annabelle Lee" and "The Raven").
There is a brief but memorable prologue in which Hudson, who at a glance does not look the part, miraculously transforms himself on stage, donning costume and makeup while relating a childhood anecdote of developing an interesting in Poe after hearing his father read "The Raven" to him. The body of the play is presented as if the disheveled author is reading his stories and poems to a literary society; however, in a slightly distracted state he wanders off on personal tangents about the untimely deaths of his mother, his friend, and his wife to consumption (the "Red Death," as Poe puts it), suggesting a possible source of inspiration for the author's tragic tales and poetry.
Within the intimate theatrical space, Hudson connects directly with the audience, whom he addresses as if they are the literary society Poe is visiting. This is the first time we have heard Poe done with a southern accent - which not only makes sense for an author from Virginia but also offers a welcome change from the dramatic, doom-laden tone most actors adopt.
Hudson is also careful not to overdo the performance aspect of the recitations. "The Raven" derives much of its power from its rhyme and rhythm. Too often, we have heard actors undermine with this an excess of dramatic pauses, as if doing a performance piece instead of a poem. Hudson lets the words speak for themselves, using the play's context (Poe's biographical details) to infuse the poem with a sense of personal drama.
The production is simple: one chair, two tables, and six candles, enhanced with a few dramatic lighting changes to underline the mood. The only music plays before and after the performance (creepy classical pieces, including a piano rendition of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition). Nothing more is needed.
Force of Nature: Edgar Allan Poe Rating
Edgar Allan Poe is an engaging one-man show from actor Duffy Hudson, filled with horror, tragedy, and morbid romanticism, expressed through autobiographical details and readings of “The Tell Tale Heart,” “Annabelle Lee,” and “The Raven”.
Edgar Allan Poe continues at Generation DCD Studio on October 20 & 21, at 8:30pm. Saturday night is nearly sold out, but tickets are available for Sunday. The address is 1001 W. Olive Avenue, Burbank, 91506. For more information, visit: fonproductions.com/edgar-allan-poe.html.