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Edgar Allan Poe Comes Alive at Philly Fringe

The only thing more difficult than memorizing the lyrical prose of Poe’s literary genius is capturing his unique ability to mount tension as his stories progress. The gem of Scott Craig Jones portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe is his talent for replicating the tension Poe wove so beautifully into his poem and stories. Jones pours his heart and soul into his craft with the same precision as Poe, and the result is at times spectacular in his dreadfully wonderful production Edgar Allan Poe Comes Alive!

Consisting of six poems and two short stories from the Poe collection, Jones indulges the audience in an hour with the man responsible for directly influencing some of the greatest science fiction and horror authors in American history. The pieces are broken up with tidbits from Poe’s life, including the peculiar ritual that’s been performed at Poe’s gravesite every year on the anniversary of his death since 1949.

Jones does a fantastic job of bringing to life Poe’s twisted tales of macabre and paranoia, particularly in The Tell-Tale Heart, one of the most suspenseful stories ever written. In an equally excellent display of versatility, he manages to stay true to the gentle sweetness of Poe’s love songs, Annabel Lee and A Dream Within a Dream. The real highlight of the performance, however, is The Masque of the Red Death, the morbid tale of a prince who foolishly believed his money and power could protect him from death.

Jones injects a bit of hu mor into his Poe character interacting with the audience between sets, a dim spot in an otherwise bright performance in the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. It’s not that the jokes aren’t appreciated; it just serves as a stark contrast to the dreary setting one seeing Poe would hope for and expect. Jones does such a wonderful job accomplishing the daunting task of capturing Poe’s tension that it seems almost unfair to himself that he’d want to snap the audience back to life before trying again and again to re-set the mood.

This weekend, if you’re looking for something to set the Halloween mood as the leaves turn brown and the weather turns crisp, you should seriously consider catching one of Jones last performances at the Studio 1831 in Northern Liberties. It’s a small venue, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance at Edgar Allan Poe Comes Alive!

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