Eddie Poe (Stage 37, Auditorium at Campus Saint-Jean)
Brooklyn-based “minimalist music theatre artists” The Coldharts (Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan) are back with the second instalment of a triptych of their shows inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe semi-autobiographical doppelganger short story William Wilson, itself inspired by a Washington Irving story.
In this telling, we find 16-year-old Virginian Edgar Allan (Ryan) off from the capital in 1826 Richmond to Charlottesville’s University of Virginia in search of a B.A. in ancient and modern languages.
The preposterously solemn, seemingly rock-ribbed Edgar Allan has secretly been engaged to (Sarah) Elmira Royster, who extracts a promise from her husband-to-be to behave himself while away studying.
But of course this is not to be, as the evil inner Eddie (Hartman, among other roles) conspires to lure him into various debaucheries — drink, gambling, profligate spending, card cheating. There is more to come later in life, as we know. And none of this is good for his health, as you will come to understand. He strikes up a friendship with kindly and very rich Glendinning and makes a mess of that, too.
Things don’t go well.
The Coldharts are an impressive duo (Marge Ryan’s costumes are superb) and they do many things well. You won’t go wrong here to enjoy a top-drawer Fringe experience, cheap at half the price.
That said, I wonder if this iteration will garner the same consistently rave, best-of-show notices its predecessor racked up. For example, skilled as she is in various disciplines, Hartman seemed to be over-amping far too often, and she should really air-check her southern accent. A re-write might just be order.
It’s not a fair comparison, but I found myself drifting back to Catalyst Theatre’s Nevermore, the brilliant musical that has travelled the world. But again, there is more than enough in Eddie Poe to have us waiting for the next chapter….
– Alan Kellogg, a graduate (references upon request) of Edgar Allan Poe Intermediate School, Annandale, Va.