• 5 stars out of five
• Stage 37, Auditorium at Campus Saint-Jean
From the depths of insecurity running blue blooded through every terrified childhood, Edgar Allan returns to the Fringe from Brooklyn Gothic horror troupe the Coldharts — another smile-in-the-dark production from a room you prayed was empty.
A triumph of storytelling with desperate songs and acting as ferocious as the twisted soul of social media, the play’s titular character is played as a bubbling spring of venom by Katie Hartman, who first appears in front of the curtains grinning and holding a parlour guitar like a weapon.
Hartman is Edgar Allan, 11¾, new to Manor House School. It is the site where, indeed, Edgar Allan Poe historically spent crystallizing years. This nod pays off in a number of the production’s subterranean tableaus involving birds, masonry and fatal self-doubt.
Determined with ferocity to be king of the hill, this lisping “despot in pre-puberty” is shaken to discover a whispering rival in class, horrifying also named Edgar Allan — a dry and undead performance by Nick Ryan. The Machiavellian “original” is tormented this challenger, “takes no part in the hazing and ritual that dominates the dormitory.”
But they are not reflections. Hartman’s Edgar is jealous and plotting; Ryan’s isolated and unconcerned. Or so we’re led to believe.
Stuck with each other at the top of their class, the two forge an uneasy truce, choosing Latin names in their tiny avian coven Corvus and Noctua (crow and owl) to differentiate.
The subtle question hanging like a wet spider in the corner: Is the second Edgar even real? It’s just one of this humble masterpiece’s charms, not to mention lonely lyrics like, “Why is the night so dark, why are the stars so far?”
They thankfully have a $15 recording you can pick up, bring exact change.
Edgar Allan is a perfect Fringe play, really. Clever, weird, moving and gorgeous on the ears, just a total delight to witness again. Go.