Halloween may be over, but spine-chilling thrills are evermore as the Dunedin Showcase Theater presents its rendition of Nightfall With Edgar Allan Poe.
The play by Eric Coble takes four of Poe's favorite works — The Raven, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Tell-Tale Heart — and adapts them to the stage in a series of theatrical vignettes. The show premiered in 1996 at the Cleveland Play House.
"Dark is a very good word for this play," said director Mike Cote. "The show follows Poe's attempts to convince himself and everyone around him that he isn't going crazy."
The two-act play has a cast of 13 and runs for about 90 minutes.
According to the playwright, the time is the past and the setting is in "the minds of madmen everywhere."
It starts with eerie music, the rings of a dozen mournful chimes and the light of a flickering candle.
Jeffery Dow, who plays Poe, said he adopted a "slight Southern accent," for the role, since the writer grew up in the Virginia area.
So is he like Poe in any way?
"I'm certainly more lighthearted than Poe and don't drink nearly as much as Poe, but I don't write as well as he did either," Dow said.
And at 57, Dow has outlived Poe by 17 years. Poe's cause of death at age 40 remains as mysterious as his works.
During The Raven, Poe mourns the loss of his love, Lenore. After that, it's a downward spiral into madness during The House of Usher.
Act II begins with The Pit and the Pendulum, where moodmaster Poe conveys unbearable torment and despair. The play progresses into The Telltale Heart — and more insanity.
Cote, a big fan of Hitchcock movies, said he pitched the play to a reading committee of seven who gave it their thumbs-up.
Dunedin Showcase Theater operates in a partnership with the city's parks and recreation department to produce two adult and two children's shows each year. There have been several incarnations of the community theater group over the years, Cote said. This group has been unified for about six years.
"This time we're a little more organized with a board of directors and a mission statement," he said.
Next up is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz — as a nonmusical — set to run in February.
"(Nightfall) is something a bit different for us," Cote said. "We tend to lean toward lighter fare."
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