NEVERMORE @ Subiaco Arts Centre gets 6/10

Nevermore – The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Po
e @ Subiaco Arts Centre

Wednesday, December 1, 2021


Whilst contemporary musical productions oftentimes have the potential to be revolutionary or evoke life-changing emotional responses, Nevermore failed to hit the spot.

is based on a semi-fictionalised account of the unfortunate events surrounding the life of Edgar Allan Poe. The story itself is beautiful and tragic, and the messiness of this specific production has nothing to do with the original writing or composition of Nevermore (originally released by theatre direction Jonathan Christensen). This production had so much potential as an art form, but fails to uphold the standards by which the original play was set.

There were notable positives though. The entire orchestra, led by Maddison Moulin, was superb in its accompaniment of the narrative, varying its pace and tempo accordingly, and was the most enjoyable element of the performance.

Standout performers include Cal Silberstein, portraying the titular character, and Simon Brett, who plays Rufus Griswald and other characters as Player 1. Silberstein was able to encapsulate the nervous energy and vulnerability typifying the character of Edgar, whereas Brett’s acting holds the malice and intensity required of his various roles.

Other notable performers include the physical comedy of Arianne Westcott-King as Sissy Clem and Fanny Allan, and Charlotte Louise as Eliza Poe (alongside other roles). Additionally, Lorna Mackie’s lighting design added positive dramatic effect to many of the scenes.

However, there were more sinister elements to this production than Poe’s unfortunate life events. Whilst one could envision the intended effects of the dance sequences, some of the actors lacked the synchronicity and technical skills to pull off the group choreography, in spite of its seeming lack of complexity.

Furthermore, it seemed as if Daniel Burton, in his roles as Jock Allan, the narrator and others, and Zack Bennett-McPhee, in his roles as Bill Burton and the narrator, were over-acting, almost in an overcompensatory, pseudo-Shakespearean way. Their collective pontification took away from the subtle nuances of the other characters. Whilst this may have been part of their various roles, this could have been more subtly enacted.

There was also confusion regarding the various actors playing different roles at different plot points. The small change in costumery was not enough to signify a change in characters, leaving many audience members perplexed and confused. This was only heightened by the fact that the music oftentimes overpowered the narrative vocalisation, especially in songs featuring more than one vocalist, and it was difficult to differentiate the individual words to form a completely cohesive plot-line.

Whilst Nevermore had its strengths, such as Cal Silberstein’s performance as Edgar, the overall production was more reminiscent of a budget, unpolished Tim Burton than it was Victorian and Steampunk-esque.



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