dBMagazine, Mar 2008
I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe
Cosying-up inside the smooth and grossly comfy Promethean is interesting preparation for what's to come in David Hayward's rendition of Dawson Nichols' play 'I Might Be Edgar Allan Poe'. You're freed of all possible physical and, if you grab a wine too, chemical encumbrances, and ready to experience Poe where he should be experienced - in your imagination.
Hayward starts things off in darkness, giving us just a window of light on his face as he runs us through one of Poe's spookier tales. Thanks to Hayward's masterful delivery though the poems and stories manifest in the viewer's mind as things far beyond spooky artifice - they're whole worlds of fantastic, radical, and yet accessible, imagination, so intrinsically fascinating and gripping that yawning ceases to be a doable thing.
It is hard to explain why he's so effective - and perhaps it is better left unexplained. But certainly a lot of it has to do with his shifts between his character - an almost templated timid psychiatric institution patient Joseph Walker - and his character inside other characters - principally Poe in story recitation, but also other interesting figures in Joseph's life. He manages these shifts between layers of representation most scrupulously - the man is a genuine professional - so that they're both oddly plausible and, in fact, quite a lot of fun.
And of course he, and Nichols the writer, are indebted to Poe - not just the stuff he wrote but the extreme personality he exerted on the world, which this piece most vigorously tries to convey and most admirably succeeds with.