Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
As directed by Paata Tsikurishvili and choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili, the work fuses imagery from "The Raven" and other Poe writings with a revised version of the company's 2007 adaptation of "The Fall of the House of Usher."
Poe (Ryan Sellers) sits at his desk, trying to write despite a storm of pages flying around him (a clever human-powered effect), when he is visited by both the specter of his lost love Lenore (Megan Khaziran) and a monstrous Raven (Maryam Najafzada, also the associate choreographer). Then Poe receives a letter from Roderick Usher (Alex Mills), inviting him to visit the forbidding mansion Roderick shares with his sister Madeline (Nutsa Tediashvili).
That's when the performanceand the housefully awakens. Roderick is convinced that the house is alive, and so it seems to be as spirits appear in silhouette behind pivoting glass walls (scenic and properties design by Phil Charlwood, lighting design by Doug Del Pizzo) and sometimes rampage across the stage, dressed in Alexa Duimstra's costumes that suggest both rags and bandages. At times, figures seem to battle gravity, accompanied by a soundtrack (score by Konstantine Lortkipanidze, sound design by Justin Schmitz) that aurally suggests jagged pieces of glass and scratched metal.
Synetic productions always meld visual and performance techniques into a unique whole; in this case, that means that the work of leading performers Sellers, Mills, Tediashvili, and Najafzada merges seamlessly with the shape-shifting members of the ensemble.
The Madness of Poe runs through October 31, 2021, at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington, VA 22202. For ticket information, call 866-811-4111 or visit www.synetictheater.org.
Adapted from the works of Edgar Allan Poe by Katherine DuBois and Nathan Weinberger