Oh, the romance of live theater! My Valentine and I caught a performance of “Tales of Edgar Allan Poe” at the Center for Puppetry Arts this week when it kicked off its “Oh, Poe is Me!” Valentine’s weekend performances.
That means there’s a cash bar, audience-generated broken-hearted Valentines on the wall and the chance to get your “Poe-trait” taken with wig and moustache. (Yes, the evening was rife with Poe puns, and I don’t blame them. You can fit them everywhere, even this blog poe-st. HA.)
Every time I see a show at the Center, I feel like I’ve learned something. If I went to “Mamma Mia!” at the Fox, I’d see a musical with a popular story, beloved music and an execution I expect. They sing! They dance! It’s fun, but I don’t necessarily learn anything except that ABBA is totally fabulous.
When I see a puppet show, I’m inevitably exposed to a new style of storytelling, in addition to a new take on a story. (Everybody knows Poe, but a lot of the Center’s shows shows are very new, with original music.) The Poe show felt more actor-driven than puppet-driven, but that’s all right: I saw something new, enjoyed the delivery and really loved the music and sound by Klimchak.
A few years removed from literature classes, it’s easy to forget how dark Poe’s work is. What you’re seeing on stage are the lingering effects of trauma and substance abuse. If you read “The Raven” in school and nothing more, you have seen only the shiny top layer of creepy. It gets much scarier. Lucky you, they act it out on stage, blood and all!
So, no, it’s not romantic. Not at all. Men take revenge, people go crazy, lovers die, and not even in the Romeo and Juliet kinda way. But I’d still call it a lovely way to spend Valentine’s Day.
Want to go? “Tales of Edgar Allan Poe” continues through Feb. 21. $11-$24. The Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-873-3391, www.puppet.org.