Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Poe by Arizona Curriculum Theatre (8pm showing) [Theatre]

This weekend I got the opportunity to go to another wonderful show by Arizona Curriculum Theatre, Poe.  Oral interpretations of Annabel Lee, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Raven were performed beautifully.  I attended with my mother, and we had been heavily anticipating it for weeks, ever since we got our Groupons to go.  Due to unforseen circumstances, I was only able to get 40 minutes of sleep on Friday night.  I considered not going to Poe, favoring sleep over pretty much anything, but my enthusiasm for Poe, and the prior experience I've had with this company drove me to push through the sleepies and get my butt to Grand Avenue.

The evening started with the interpretation of Annabel Lee.  Can I just say that I never really thought of that poem as creepy until I saw this performance?  Fantastic.  Totally creepy.  Oh, and I didn't once feel like I needed to sleep.

Next came the Cask of Amontillado.  Okay.  I'm going to be honest.  Cask was probably my least favorite Poe until Saturday night.  Seriously.  I didn't ever really get it until Saturday with this interpretation.  Holy creepy, Batman.  I'm so never getting drunk.  Let this be a caution to all of you drunkards out there, for reals. Don't go around following old men into wine cellars.  You're gonna get walled up and eaten or something.  Totally freaky.  Amazingly performed.  Wonderfully eye-opening.  Thanks.

Last was The Raven.  Now, I went to this session specifically for this performance.  The Raven is one of my all-time favorite poems, because I mean, how could it not be?  I'm dark and dreary like that.  Not only was this performance the best of the night, it was the best I've ever seen it performed.  I never thought of the raven speaking in such a hostile tone as the interpreter spoke for him, and it was powerful the way it was done.  So much more powerful than I ever imagined this poem could be.

My only criticism on the whole night is that I was not sure which actor was doing which piece, and I would have loved to have raved about them by name.  To both of you - Jason Barth, and Jim Coates - awesome, polished, and appropriately-disturbing performances.  *me. raving.*  The fact that I had forty minutes of sleep in the 48 hour period prior to coming to your show, sat in a warm room, a room that was dark enough to sleep in, and didn't want to close my eyes one single time speaks to your talent and the quality of your performance that night.  Bravo.

So, once again, Arizona Curriculum Theatre has taken my high expectations and shattered them.  They've taken a critic and made her into a fan.  They've taken a true fan of Poe's and shed a whole new light on his work for her.  They've done an amazing thing here.  I rarely rave.  I'm raving.  Twice in one year about one company?  Practically unheard of.  We're going back for a 10pm showing on the 29th, which will include The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat, just in time for Halloween!  If you live in the Phoenix area and like lit at all, this is a do-not-miss.  I think there are still a few tickets available.  Visit for more information on tickets and show times, and get your butt to a performance!


Jim Coates said...

What kind and generous compliments! How wonderful that Jason Barth ("Annabel Lee"/"Raven") and I ("Cask") could entertain you so vividly and so viscerally during our lone hour in the dark together last Saturday evening. Honestly though, having already seen our 10pm show (Jason: "The Black Cat" & James Porter: "The Tell-tale Heart"), I can only advise you strongly to squeeze in at least one really sound night's sleep before THAT show! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa! Happy Halloween Thanks to You! Just Another Playful Poe Boy, Jim Coates.

James David Porter said...

Thanks for the great review and your on-going loyalty to our work! Sorry about the cast confusion -- the cast members are listed traditionally on our program, in order of appearance. I'm also not surprised that you didn't recognize Mr. Barth from Salem: 1692. He doesn't look quite the same doing Annabel Lee and The Raven as he did playing the young Salem judge delivering a fire and brimstone sermon. See you at the theatre!