Stage Left, Oct 2000

From the Stage Left website, 15 October 2000


Written by Dawson Nichols

Directed by Denise Bridger

11 - 22 October 2000

Chapel off Chapel

12 Little Chapel Street, Prahan

Bookings on (03) 9658 9600 or the Fringe Festival site

For more details, see the official Fringe Festival site

The residential ward of a mental hospital is a suitable setting for a play about Edgar Allan Poe; more specifically the room of a young man who thinks he might be the writer himself. Regardless of whether he is or isn't the reincarnation of the great horror author, aspects of his life certainly parallel those of Poe.

David Hayward is the sole performer in this production, and he manages to sustain the two-hour piece very well. Even so, the first half is too slow and too long. There is room for editing throughout the first act, most notably when he reminisces about his high school friend and the tragedy of his parents. While there is a need to draw similarities between his life and Poe's, it doesn't need to be overstated.

I was pleased to discover the second act is the opposite. Much tighter writing enhances the terrific performance of David Hayward, and I even enjoyed the brief yet informative biography of Poe given straight after the interval. While this is intended as a plot device and to reinforce the different understandings of who Poe was, it also gives the play more background by informing the audience of some of the facts of his life.

Another minor quibble is with the venue, suited to the style of production but not soundproof. This is a shame for the performers and Hayward must be commended on his ability to concentrate in spite of this (and also in spite of an errant fly).

This is a complex and interesting play, and there are some wonderful readings from Poe's own work, including a beautiful recital of The Raven. It is well worth seeing.

Reviewed by Penny Harris

Stage Left Editor: Tim Richards