- Poe and All that Jazz
by Miranda Hall
- If Poe and All that Jazz receives the zealous attention it deserves, then perhaps this holiday season a Poe-in-a-box will give Tickle-me-Elmo a run for its money. Let’s give it that chance – for the kids.
Riotous and arrestingly revelatory, the Hamner Theater’s latest creation will surprise the laughs out of you. Helen Hayes Award winning playwright Peter Coy’s masterful interpolation of Cole Porter and Edgar Allan Poe overflows with quirky pizzazz as he explores Poe’s relentlessly tragic love life and the writing it compels. Resilient in the face of Poe’s verbose morbidity and encouraged by Porter’s upbeat quips, Coy injects his script with a deluge of pithy retorts and zany choreography to complement expertly selected Poe passages.
Coy’s Poe has lost his memory. Thank goodness a beautiful woman with a sumptuously jazzy voice appears to help him recover it.
John Cobb as Poe approaches the script with the perspicacious dexterity of a Shakespeare veteran. This man really activates his words. Cobb penetrates the labyrinths of Poe’s heavy narratives with such an unwavering commitment to fresh discovery that each word emerges as if newly minted to his mind. Disoriented, dubious, and endearingly sincere, his Poe is entirely human and completely preoccupied with a single objective: fall in love with a girl who will stay alive.
Patti Finn assumes the title role of All That Jazz as she waltzes between stints as Poe’s mother, love interests, poetic muses, and musical diversions. As she embodies the staggering list of deceased family members and fiancées, she exerts enough oomph to send Poe running from the grave. Her wit attacks with shrewd accuracy. Even the onstage musicians are enthralled.
So look out, John Waters. Poe is joining Hairspray atop the cutthroat list of phantasmagorical musicals with unconventional Baltimore protagonists – complete with a black feather boa.
Running Time: 90 minutes
- Tickets: Poe and All That Jazz
- Remaining Shows: Wed, July 16 at 6:30 . Fri, July 18 at 8 . Sat, July 19 at noon . Sun, July 20 at 8
- Where: Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center in the Forum . 610 F Street NW