I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe

Dawson Nichols'

I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe

Directed by Denise Hayward

Performed By David Hayward

“Cast Forrest Gump in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.' Add some Hannibal Lector and you're getting there. Sort of.”

- Three Weeks

"will give anyone unfamiliar with his (Poe’s) writings a thrilling introduction”

- The West Australian

About the show

I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe is a dark comedy about a mental patient who thinks he might be Edgar Allan Poe, the master of horror fiction.

“engaging, amusing and disturbing all at once”

- The Scotsman


Through a series of anecdotes we learn that Joseph Walker (the main character) is inside a psychiatric institution, that he has a strange identification with Edgar Allan Poe, and that he doesn’t really accept the opinions of his doctors.

As part of his anecdotal style, Joseph occasionally assumes other characters in an attempt to give us better insight into his life and/or to make certain points. Sometimes these characters are from Poe’s work and sometimes they are from Joseph’s life (there are about twelve different characters in all).

As the play progresses we learn more about both Poe and the unfortunate circumstances of Joseph’s life.

“a complex and interesting play”

- Stage Left


Following is a list of the seasons we have done. The writer (Dawson Nichols) has also performed the show in Adelaide (1998) and in North America.

“A bravely intense and purely creative work”

- Buzzcuts

“compelling and powerful”

- Inpress Magazine

From the writer

Edgar Allan Poe is an enigma. Some call him a spiteful, egotistical, alcoholic writer of schlock whose only real contribution to literature was his singular ability to sensationalize. Others refer to him as an unqualified genius, whose accomplishments include the invention of mystery fiction, science fiction, and horror (by the introduction of psychological realism into the gothic tradition.) The truth, as is so often the case, is probably somewhere between these two extremes. Or a combination of them.

In this play I have tried to explore themes of which I think Edgar Allan Poe would approve, and in doing so I occasionally make reference to Poe's life. The details of his life that are referred to in the play are, to the best of my knowledge, accurate. The professor at the beginning of Act II, however, does encourage misinterpretation. In fact, his slavish adherence to 'the facts' often leads him to misrepresent the overriding circumstances of Poe's life. Context informs everything, and without a charitable sense of the quotidian experience of Poe's life, such pedants are bound to mistake his motives and intentions. And often, by extension, his writing.

But whatever his legacy in literary circles, Poe's real gift is still in the compelling way his works engage the individual reader. I have found a great deal in his writing to interest and confound me, excite and anger and sadden me. I would consider it the greatest compliment if this play prompted other people to take up his works again.

Dawson Nichols

“a strong script with a superb execution”

- Beat Magazine

From the performer

I saw the writer (Dawson Nichols) perform the show at the Adelaide Fringe in 1998 and it blew me away. In general, I prefer ensemble pieces to monologues and if someone had previously told me I would be tackling a two-hour, one-man show then I would have thought they were crazy. But after seeing the show I thought about it and thought about it and finally contacted Dawson to see if he would let me do the show in Perth (and later in Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Adelaide). It is rare for an actor to find a script they like and connect with so well, and I felt it would be a waste not to pursue it. So I did and it has been one of the major achievements of my life. If you ever get a chance to see the show (performed by me, Dawson, or anyone else) then I highly recommend it!

David Hayward

“Hayward's skill is such that it almost seems as if he is creating each line spontaneously, enhancing the power and strangeness of the texts through subtle gestures, vocal modulation and perfect timing”

- The West Australian