A Journey Into a Troubled Soul
Death delivered in time for the Samhain and to perfection
By Byron Toben
“Lord save my troubled soul!” exclaimed Edgar Allan Poe as he died in a delirium on October 7, 1849. On a rainy, windy Friday 162 years (and one week) later, three of his most disturbing first-person narrated stories chillingly opened for a brief theatrical run at the intimate Freestanding Room.
All of this is meat for an actor to strut his stuff…exhibit friendliness, hypocrisy, inner seething, rage, bewilderment …within an hour span.
Chris Nachaj cleverly asked Christopher Moore to direct him and the result is well worth while. All three one-man recitals deal with death, two by murder most foul and one delayed by hypnosis.
In “A Cask of Amontillado”, an ingratiating younger fellow lures a drunken older man to being bricked into a crypt alive as revenge for perceived insults. In “The Tell Tale Heart” a pleasant young boarder suffocates and dismembers his landlord (of whom he is actually fond) because of a hideous eye, but is undone by his inner guilt which pursues him with the throbbing of the buried heart. In “The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar” a curious student “Mesmerizes” his dying friend to see if this form of early hypnosis can prolong life after death, with disturbing consequences.
All of this is meat for an actor to strut his stuff…exhibit friendliness, hypocrisy, inner seething, rage, bewilderment …within an hour span. Mr. Nachaj performs it all to perfection. The two Chris's had acted together in Persephone Productions “Othello”. Perhaps this is the start of a beautiful collaboration as Mr. Poe has another 20 or so short tales clanking around. As he conveniently died so long ago, there are no royalties to be paid.
Another Poe mystery lasted 60 years and only ceased in 2010. Every year, on the anniversary of his death, someone placed some red roses and a bottle of cognac on his grave. It was never discovered who. At least, in the case of the annual flowers on Marilyn Monroe's grave, we know who..Joe Dimaggio.
Obsession: Tales from Edgar Allan Poe is at the Freestanding Room, 4324 St. Laurent Blvd., until Oct. 30. 514-677-9195 freestandingroom.com.