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Review: A Pandemonium of Poe at the Old Joint Stock Theatre

The stage is lit by candles, atonal, deep cello music plays, and Dr Trevellyan emerges from the shadows to invite us – either the audience or the inmates – to the Sanitorium. He runs through a series of case notes, introducing us to Patient X, or any number of characters who lives have been touched by the dread hand of the uncanny.

This is the latest show from the award winning Don’t Go Into The Cellar and it offers theatre-goers the usual high quality of atmosphere, story-telling and acting.

The show, based on the stories of Edgar Allen Poe, was written by Jonathan Goodwin who appears as the chilling but debonair Dr Trevellyan, haunted by both his past cases and the recent death of his father, with help from Phil Jennings who does some heavy lifting in terms of acting.

Atmosphere, musical cues etc are provided by Gary Archer, who’s unseen hand plays an important, often over-looked role in creating the ambience in productions like this.

The work of Edgar Allen Poe is often seen as shlock, but he was also a first class story-teller, his writing imbuing believable characters and situations with super-natural elements. The believable elements of thwarted romance, pride, anger and jealousy mix with tales of zombies, men coming back to life after their final breaths, strange travellers met, or things that at the time seem ordinary, but as the stories develop they take on strange new meanings.

So as well as extracts from such favourites as The Tell Tale Heart, we also see a wine expert inter a rival with a better nose, behind a wall, where he suffers a slow and painful death, or the patient who develops Mono-mania and doesn’t remember killing his fiancée although all of the evidence shows that he did.

As the evening draws to a close, we realise that Dr Trevellyan is an inmate haunted by his father’s death, in which he played a large part.

This was a good evening in the theatre in an intimate setting, where the work of one of the more influential writers of recent times was given the treatment it deserves by three talented artistic practioners.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.