The only thing better than reading the Gothic works of Edgar Allan Poe is hearing them read by the distinct paranoid voice of horror icon Jeffrey Combs. If you’re a fan of the Re-Animator star – and how could you not be? – then Nevermore: An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe should be at the top of your priority list. As if you needed more incentive, this one-man stage show also reunites horror’s holy trio of Combs, writer Dennis Paoli, and director Stuart Gordon for a night you’ll never forget.
Reprising his role from Gordon’s Masters of Horror: “The Black Cat”, Combs takes the stage in full Poe costume and make-up, acting out a mock public appearance where he attempts to wow an audience of his readers and peers. It doesn’t all go according to plan though, as Poe’s ailing health and battle with alcoholism begin to take center stage. As the night goes on, the controversial author recites several of his infamous poems, offers observations on love and loss, and drunkenly hurls insults at his literary critics.
Gordon and Paoli have effortlessly reconstructed the show from letters, essays, and reports from Poe’s actual appearances, which lends a sense of validation to this production. What could have easily been a hokey Hall of Presidents style reenactment turns out to be a powerful glimpse into the mind of a tragic, misunderstood figure. Jeffrey Combs is absolutely electrifying and at the top of his game here. Watching him stumble about and passionately spit out his rants and readings is a true sight to behold; the man could be reading the phone book and still keep you enthralled.
Nevermore is currently playing at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles through August 2nd, and hopefully it will have a life outside its all-too-brief stage run. This is a brilliant, tense, and often funny one-man show that shouldn’t be missed by any Poe or horror aficionado.
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