Hunter Intro to Theatre

“Nevermore” reviewed by Shoshanah

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    “Nevermore” is a creative play interpreting the life of the well known poet and writer Edgar Allan Poe. With a simplistic set design and intriguing costumes, writer, composer, and director Jonathan Christenson created characters who retained the audiences focus and incited their imagination. “Nevermore” brought forth an emotional understanding of Edgar Allan Poe and the inspirations for his poetry and writing.
    An eye-catching first exposure to “Nevermore” are the ads depicting the characters of the play and a raven. Whether or not an individual would know Edgar Allan Poe or his connection with a raven and the word “Nevermore”, this ad triggers the imagination, even for a second, and makes an individual want to know more, even if they don’t follow through with their curiosity.
    The ad for “Nevermore” is just a taste of the creativity packed into the play. Using a proscenium stage, the set for this play is a mostly a bare stage except for sliding screens several feet away from the edge of the stage. However, this simplicity made the play more real then a complicated set with complicated scenery. The moving in and out of these sliding screens represents different places and times in the life of Edgar Allan Poe. The screens were also used to show what Poe sees as reality and imaginary, and sometimes having them merged together. The costumes were simple black and white – but not simply put together. There were elaborate patterns and suggested designs. For example, Edgar was wearing a skeletal framing of pantaloons – no actual cloth – over his pants. This technique was used in different ways on several of the characters. It seems to mimic the mind of Poe – seeing things that are there but really are not, or, thinking emotions exists for him from others, but they may not be true, just implied.
    Similar to the costume creativity was the hair styles of the characters. No two hair styles were the same, and none of them would be considered by an average person to be worn in a social environment. However, the costumes so defined the characters that one would understand their personality before they speak.
    Lighting was very important to this play in several scenes for several reasons, but the most important were the times when Edgar would be in his room looking out through a crack in his door to other characters. The “cracked door” was represented by a sliver of white light stretching from one corner of the stage toward Edgar. At some points in the play, this signified his isolation, whether real or imaginative, from other characters.
    An unexpected creative aspect was the the beginning scene of the play and its direct connection to the end scene of the play. Both can be considered one in the same. However, as the performance takes its course, it is easy to forget if the story is taking place in present tense, the past, reality, or imaginary. This seems to be done on purpose to expose the audience to what it could have been like inside the mind of Poe.
    The script of the play and how the actors portrayed the characters and lines was purposefully exaggerated emotions and forms of communication. This is in contrast to Poe’s character who had comparably less dialog, and even when interacting with the other characters, was less boisterous. This seemed to mimic how Poe interpreted the people in his life, indicating that he was more sensitive than most. His emotions were intensified and raw. For example, where another person would see some of the situations Poe went through as a part of life and not let it dictate how their life would be, Poe seemed to focus on those situations, which blinded him to other aspects of life, and let those instances define him. As the play portrayed Poe, the only moments worth mentioning and recognizing were the closeness of the people he devotedly loved and the effects their deaths had on him, the years between were barely suggested. Everything that happens through out knowing someone to build love was not included. There was only the knowing of love and then death.
    The portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe in “Nevermore” was fun, creative, and accurate to the personality of Poe as one would know him by reading his poetry and writing. This included his dept of emotion, his perception of life, and exactly how one would assume it would be inside his mind, because when a writers work is read, what is being read is the mind of the writer.

    The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe
    New World Stages / Stage 1
    340 West 50th Street

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