Catalyst Theatre: “Nevermore: The Imaginary Life & Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe”

Mack and I went to see Catalyst Theatre’s Nevermore on Saturday afternoon, one of the most hotly anticipated shows of the season. Jonathan Christenson and Bretta Gerecke, the Sterling Award-winning creators of Frankenstein collaborated again, this time on a tale about the life of writer Edgar Allan Poe. From the website:

Nevermore is a playful and inventive 21st Century exploration of the mind and life of a 19th Century artist whose tormented life and dark imagination inspired him to create characters and stories that have taken on an almost mythical stature in contemporary culture.”

In a word – it was captivating. Nevermore enthralled in the same way Frankenstein did – everything from the lighting design and musical direction to costumes and dialogue were seamlessly integrated together, where each element was inseparable from the rest.

Playing on variants of black, Gerecke’s costumes (several made from paper mache), coupled with gothic makeup, were both playful and dark. Every prop, including the delicate paper tea cups and creaky pop-up books, helped create a dreamlike world around Edgar where it was easy for the audience to see where his conscious world blended with his nightmares. The use of shadow and the semi-transparent screens for narrative scenes and chorus support were brilliant, and demonstrated Christenson’s adeptness in visual storytelling.

All of the actors (except Scott Shpeley who played Edgar) were required to perform multiple roles, each needing to be distinct in voice, stature and movement. I found no weak link in the cast, as all were skilled at the crisp scene changes. Two members did stand out for me – Vanessa Sabourin was particularly haunting as Edgar’s fleeting mother, and Beth Graham’s comic relief as “wee Rosalie” was always a welcome presence.

Nevermore runs until May 17, but has added an additional two shows on May 22 & 23. Go see it! You won’t be disappointed.