Edinburgh Fringe 2014
In order to be bought more drink, Poe, whilst escaping a political rally outside in Baltimore, offers a dark tale in exchange for liquor to a complete stranger. What follows may be the ravings of a lunatic or of a sane man driven towards an edge of darkness.
Marty Ross appears as Poe desperate for drink. Befriended in the bar he manipulates his companion for a little more until he agrees to tell of a story so fantastical that it may not be believed. We are given the story of Poe being arrested and flung into Moyamensing prison. Whilst there he is introduced to a companion that has dug through and into Poe’s cell. From there the companion escapes out into the prison where the wife of the Governor is in a tower in mortal danger. Poe sets off through a room of bones and rats, the ransacked Governor’s office and up the tower until we are unsure of just who Eddie, his new prison companion is or was. Unsatisfied with the tale being told Poe’s drinking buddy has him arrested and we find ourselves in an operating theatre of the mind and body that is designed to shock.
The writing is taut and superb. It makes the show shocking whilst we find new nuances within the work that Poe provides. At this rate Marty Ross will be a skelf after this run as this is a performance that pushes physical boundaries – most of it with a need to be believed by Poe. It is here that I think Ross is trying a tad too hard. I was looking for more light and shade than I got but you cannot fault the effort. Beneath that is true belief.
There is little by way of staging and there is little needed. Ross has the ability to draw us into a world without props and scenery. We are transported from one venue to another in the narrative by sheer force of personality. As a one man show this is good to see. Ross brings to the piece an energy that is awesome at times. As I have said though I wonder if he needs quite such a ranting style as there are times when I think the foot can come off the accelerator. At time I found the white knuckle ride too white knuckle and too little contrast.
It is however as visceral as the last instalment. The key element within this performance that worked for me was the mental manipulation within a story that may be true and may not be. Ross ignores the opportunity to give an opinion but instead gives a flawed character the opportunity to get out there and tell it as they experienced it. We are left with the opportunity to decide if we think he is mad or misunderstood. There is nothing misunderstood about this performance from Ross as he goes at it with panache and gusto.