"Subtle and terrifying!" -BackStage West


November 1998
Tuesdays & Wednesdays @ 8pm

Directed by Bradley Warden

Sound Design - Jenifer Hamel
Lighting Design - Aldrich Allen

Julio Perillan, Jason Turnage, Aura Wright and others

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As masterfully as many of Edgar Allen Poe's written works illustrate despair and madness, Sacred Fools' theatricalization of seven Poe pieces does well to interpret said despair and madness. On the Sacred Fools stage these attributes come together, then split apart at times, and a seeming joyous rapture in the macabre is embraced by the characters. And it's not just the sight of blood or gore shed by the hands of a trembling character which has such high impact, but also the subtle and terrifying euphoria testified by these characters after paving an enemy up in a wall or hanging a seductive cat, or the glorious sorrow of a losing a love to a chilling, possessed wind that proves more than just a pneumonic.

The running together of the pieces in quick succession gives the production a fluidity which portrays an endless roiling about of emotions and thoughts black and somber, but kinetic, hardly sedentary, not simply sadness. In The Black Cat, the cat is a woman (Aura Wright), and this effect is striking, as Wright's svelte physicality, her yowlings, and her impish subterfuge flesh out the cat; the anthropomorphism makes the piece more seductive, the demise of the narrator (Jason Turnage) more resonant. The Fall of the House of Usher is also powerfully depicted, with incestuous, necrophiliac writhings, and the character of Roderick (Julio Perillan) is well portrayed in extremes of mood, from chattering and wild to shrunken and reticent.

It seems an easy mistake, in these quick-cut times, to overuse viscera to emphasize the horrific. Under Bradley Warden's direction, Sacred Fools thankfully does not quite fall prey to this but focuses on the intuitive examinations Poe made of macabre situations. The dialogue used in place of Poe's narration, though, is too contemporary and makes for just a little discord in a few areas. The sound and lighting design (by Jennifer Hamel and Aldrich Allen, respectively) work in eerie elements, and the whole production leaves an impression something akin to watching the creaking open of a dark cellar's door.

-Ken Pfeil
1998 Backstage West/DramaLogue