“Nevermore is absolute gripping. It is dark and intense as it soars through the self-destructive life of the writer Edgar Allan Poe.”
Last night I went to see Notion Theatre’s production of Nevermore at The Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton. Nevermore is a musical by Matt Conner and Grace Barnes directed by Hayley Cusick. The lyrics are adapted from the writing of Edgar Allan Poe. Nevermore is absolute gripping. It is dark and intense as it soars through the self-destructive life of the writer Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe is haunted and defined by many women in his past and present. These are his mother who died when he was young, his young love Elmira, a whore, his cousin Virginia (who becomes his wife) and Virginia’s mother. Edgar and the audience hear the voices and see the interactions they had with Edgar, as the actors perform from around the audience, effectively using all of the space. Although Poe always feels alone and mentions it many times, he is always inspired by the women of his past and his present.
Matt Conner has cleverly adapted lyrics from Poe’s writings, the music is stunning, yet so simple. Richard Bates is on keys and Julia Stone on the violin. My favourite moments were when all of the (flawless) actors sang together. The beautiful sound produced by the cast brought tears to my eyes at many moments. The harmonies were perfect and the powerful voices demonstrated the beautiful although disturbing dark tales that Poe was well-known for.
Adam Bayjou plays Edgar and does a fantastic job as the poet. He gives it his all, he is charismatic and the audience are drawn into Poe’s intense life. Erica Birtles as Virgina, Poe’s cousin and then wife, was outstanding. Her voice is beautiful and she perfectly portrayed an innocent 13-year-old girl who was intrigued by her older cousin’s story-telling. I thought it was quite eerie how she could be so innocent yet fascinated by darkness. Joanna Kirkland as Poe’s mother was always truly in the moment as she observed what was going on in her son’s life or remarked on what had been. I was also impressed with Ambra Caserotti who played Muddy, Virgina’s mother and Poe’s substitute mother. Anna Simmons as Elmira, Poe’s childhood sweetheart who reunited with him later was brilliant. She has the most beautiful voice and was very believable. Kimberley Newell as the whore that Poe was always drawn to was captivating.
The village women that make up the rest of the cast (Amanda Black, Gabriella Flowers, Bethan Foresy, Rebecca Hickey, Kay Victoria Hindmarsh, Katie McHardy and Tanya Stephens) are just as impressive bringing something special to the production. They occasionally lend their beautiful vocals to the production, they dance superbly both group and solo numbers (a credit to the choreography of Ellie Rutherford), rush through the audience scattering leaves and crawl through the audience. This is not a distraction to the story, it is a bonus and I thought it was very effective.
An amazing night out, if you can get to the Courtyard theatre tonight or tomorrow at 7:30pm please do go. To me it is proof that you can find some absolute gems in fringe theatre.
This is the second production I have seen from Notion Theatre and I will be looking out for their work in the future.