King’s Head Theatre, London – until 7 January 2023
Director and performer Stephen Smith bought One Man Poe to our screens during the lockdown. The gothic trilogy The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven are now being performed live on stage at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington. Smith breathes an eerie new life into the 19th century work.
The Tell-Tale Heart explains the murder of the gentleman with a false Raven eye through the justification of a madman murderer. The premeditated demise of a “nice” man whose only fault was his false eye.
The Pit and the Pendulum is a dark and harrowing account told by a prisoner kept in the depths of a dungeon cell. His surroundings are unknown and disturbingly come to life as Smith explores the dank and slippery environment. Discovering he is but a nose width away from plunging to death into a well.
His graphic account as the killer Pendulum which swings down from above will have you gripped throughout, to the point of looking up to make sure there isn’t anything coming down from the ceiling. Each sharp intake of breath and sweat module falling from his brow has you on the edge of your seat.
The Raven offers a shorter and slightly less horrific ending to the Poe trilogy. Although equalling as compelling in leaving you feeling uneasy and looking behind you.
Smith’s cast change between each of the three tales allows you a few moments of respite to gather your thoughts and prepare to be plunged back into the 19th century gothic mind of Poe. The performance is one not to be missed and balances a compelling and repelling experience blended to leave you feeling disturbed and your senses on high alert.
Sound Designer Joseph Furey and Django Holder create a truly gothic experience. Especially in The Raven where I couldn’t quite locate where the noises made by the bird were coming from and found myself looking around at the time as Smith’s character.
The passion and understanding of how horror can captivate an audience are beautifully composed by Smith. Respecting the work by Poe and creating a performance that one would feel even the author himself would leave feeling disturbed by. I have a strong admiration for Smith’s portrayal of the three different characters and look forward to seeing future productions.
For more information on One Man Poe, Threedumb Theatre, and future productions at The King’s Head Theatre please use the links below.
What’s On | King’s Head Theatre