It is a dark and stormy night. No, really, it’s really dark and the storm is so dense The Woman can’t see her hand in front of her face as she aimlessly wanders through the black, boggy woods. When she finally stumbles upon what she thinks will be her salvation in the form of a house, it turns out to be anything but. She is immediately greeted by a colorful cast of phantasms, each of whom has a ghoulish tale to tell of how they came to occupy a room in this horrifying prison for tortured minds.
A perfect beginning for Murder by Poe, a play inspired by the works of that gothic master of psychological terror, Edgar Allan Poe. The show, directed by David Rexroad for The Actors Guild of Parkersburg, is a fiendishly good time that no one should miss. Any Poe fan will recognize his immortal classics as they are brought to life through the memories of their characters. Fans of Poe will recognize “The Telltale Heart”, “The Black Cat”, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “William Wilson”, “The Purloined Letter”, “The Mystery of Marie Roget”, and “The Fall of the House of Usher”, as one by one, the ghastly tales are told by the killers, all trapped in the house for eternity, forced to relive their crimes every night. All, it seems, but one, are guilty of taking at least one life. The apparent exception is Poe’s famous French detective C. Auguste Dupin, the brilliant mind who solved the eponymous murders in a home on a street appropriately named Rue Morgue. The audience wonders why Dupin, brilliantly portrayed by Andrew Clovis, is there among these tortured souls. Don’t worry—the answer comes. But you’ll have to discover it for yourself.
This show hits all the right notes. The cast is uniformly strong. All but Clovis as Dupin and Kalina Jones, equally impressive as The Woman, play multiple roles. Each ensemble member gets a chance to shine as a killer or a victim or both. To point out one in particularly would be to unfairly slight the others. Suffice it to say that Chloe Arnold, Danny Bayer, Susan Courtney, Isaac Eastwood, George Faber, and Tim Tuten all turn in bravura performances.
I know I always rave about the set when I review Guild shows, but I simply cannot speak highly enough of the set for this show. Brilliantly conceived and equally magnificent in execution, it includes trap doors, video screens, and even a giant coffin. And all the moving parts operated nearly flawlessly.
Whether you are a Poe fan or not, you are in for a treat, so get tickets and get them soon. The mayhem begins on the most perfect day for such a show, Friday, September 13 at 8:00 p.m. Subsequent evening performances will take place on September 14, 20, 21, 27, and 28. Only one matinee is available for this show, so get tickets early for September 22 at 2:30 p.m. This is a quick show, only 90 minutes with no intermission, so you’ll even have time for dessert after if you like. To get tickets, call the box office at 304-485-1300 or go to www.actors-guild.com. You’ll glad you did!