Prior to Xmas, I was kindly invited by the actress Renae Boult to attend a performance of Dennis Paoli's Nevermore, "An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe". Directed by Stuart Gordon, who was in attendance, and starring Jeffrey Combs, I found it quite mesmerizing.
As you can see in this beautiful portrait of Poe by talented and underrated photographer Ward Boult, Combs' resemblance to Poe is quite uncanny.
The actor's reading of The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven were especially striking in light of the fact that they have been done to death over the years. Combs brings a startling authority to these pieces that made them sound as if he were composing them out loud for the first time.
I have seen Poe performed before, but never with such disarming physicality and humor. Yes, there is some self-deprecating humor sprinkled throughout the initial stages of the play, and this negates the usual stodginess often associated with the character.
Writer Paoli wrote Gordon's ep of Masters of Horror, 'The Black Cat', as well as Re-animator, Dagon, Castle Freak, and Abel Ferrara's excellent version of Body Snatchers.
Watching Combs, you are watching Poe, and Gordon stages everything with unbridled clarity and feeling.
The evening, rubbed thoroughly in alcohol, progresses through readings of stories and poems, and gets especially intimate when Poe discusses the loss of his late wife.
I'm sure the great writer would have approved of this wonderful exhumation.
After the show, I spoke briefly to the genuine Mr. Gordon, and complimented him on Poe and and his recent forays into genre cinema. I also asked him if he'd considered turning Nevermore into a film. He said it's something that's of interest to him.
Unlike so many horror directors we have long admired, Gordon has not succumbed to blandness and rehashes of old successes.
On the contrary, his last three movies have been works of extraordinary originality and energy.
I have so much respect for Stuart Gordon, and it's clear he has much respect for good work.
He's a true Apostle of Pulp.