By: Walter Ruff
Meat and Potato Theater’s production of Poe 2000, a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s works mounted at the Playbill Café is just in time for Halloween. Playwright-director-actor Tobin Atkinson has succeeded in bringing something different and exciting to the stage while preserving the aberrant and ghoulish nature of Poe’s poems and writings. Previously Atkinson wrote, directed and appeared in Meat and Potato Theatre Company’s Infantry Monologues “an insider’s look at America’s armed forces and the effects of September 11 on our shared culture”. Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! — quit the bust above my door! Neon glasses, black lights, and a stuffed raven are featured in Meat and Potato’s vision of The Raven certainly Poe’s most well known work and one of Poe 2000’s best portrayals. The spooky, glowing visuals and Atkinson’s eerie reading start the evening off on the right foot. Lucille Ball meets Edgar Allan Poe is up next in Atkinson’s whimsical and stylish take of The Tell Tale Heart. Featuring Katie Taylor-Rollins as a 50’s housewife, Atkinson uses an easel and one word cue cards to tell the speechless story that held some of the evening’s most entertaining moments. The Cask of Amontillado (1846) gets a modernization that works very well and The Bells gets a Hip Hop treatment that had the small black box jumping to a rap beat. All told the troupe performs ten vignettes; all incorporate various masks, puppets, storytelling, farce and audience participation true to the company’s mission. Atkinson and Taylor-Rollins with help from Jeffrey A. Wisniewski create amusing original theatre that is ambitious and edgy. The staging is imaginative and intelligent and the performances are enthusiastic but respectful of the material. Do yourself a favor and see this show, it is fine fall fun and 1409 is a great place to have dinner or drinks.
Adapted from the writings of Edgar Alan Poe and directed by Tobin Atkinson. Cast: Tobin Atkinson, Katie Taylor-Rollins, Jeffrey A. Wisniewski