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Rataouille
Five Hearts

"A frightening encounter between man and mysterious bird."

Written by Steven Walker

Whether you like Edgar Allan Poe or not, you cannot dispute the man's genius.  His works stab directly into some dark, primal recess in the human soul that allows it to stay relevant and memorable throughout the generations.  What I never realized until I saw Nevermore, is how necessary it is to hear his work read aloud before you can truly appreciate it.

Jeffery Combs is a minor hero of mine.  He is one of those character actors whose presence enlivens everything he is in.  I grew up on Re-Animator…it was one of the first horror movies I watched once I was old enough to enjoy them, and the movie would be nothing without Herbert West, the mad scientist who gives Dr. Frankenstein a run for his money.  I've seen The Frighteners countless times, and the character of Milton Dammers remains one of my all time favorite 'creepy guys.'  With lines like, "You are violating my territorial bubble!" and "My body is a temple of pain!" how can you not love him?

He also played the slimy Vorta leader Weyoun for several seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a show I dearly loved and supported until its wretched final season destroyed everything that was good about it.

So, despite having some classic genre roles that have earned him tremendous geek cred, Jeffery Combs has regrettably never received the mainstream attention he deserves for his acting prowess.  Hopefully Nevermore with finally change that.

Re-teaming with his Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon, the pair have crafted an exceptional one-man play that allows Combs to really bring goods while deconstructing Poe's near-mythic status and revealing him to be flawed, heartbroken, angry man who proceeds to have a mental breakthrough, or breakdown, right in front of our eyes. 

A technical glitch at the performance I attended started things off on a sour, but strangely amusing note.  The auditorium lights were supposed to come down for Poe's entrance, but they did not.  This led to much scurrying around by theater employees and compelled an angry Mr. Combs to whisper in what I 'm sure he thought was complete privacy, "These lights have to go out!  Fucking hell, man!?"  Unbeknownst to him, this backstage whisper echoed through the auditorium like a gunshot.  Not the Drafthouse's finest moment.  

Once that hurdle was leaped, Combs simply became Poe.  If Nevermore is to be believed, Poe spent most of his life in the shadow of more popular writers whose work he felt was inferior and even detestable.  He struggled in obscurity, scorned by critics who deemed his writings morally repugnant, doomed to die well before his work was recognized for its true artistic value.

I suppose this is not surprising, for I doubt such twisted and morbid works could be written by someone with a happy life.  Nonetheless, it is unsettling to know how much the greats suffered for their greatness.

 

 

 

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