The Disappearing, a reading presented on Saturday night came across as very entertaining, and yet now it’s gone! Edgar Allen Poe’s works still can make a splash while remaining completely relevant to modern theater and literature. This past Saturday, Michael McGovern, a valued local novelist, director and playwright, staged a reading of The Disappearing by the Beat Cabaret. The Disappearing, a gothic chamber theater piece, as written by Michael McGovern, takes the famous Edgar Allen Poe short story “The Fall of The House of Usher” and, with some imagination, updates it, adding twists to shock and delight.
Now, please remember that the presentation came as a simple reading of the lines by the actors and a bit of directorship as presented off stage in the darkness by McGovern. The four primary actors were seated throughout most of the presentation. Even though we were not provided a complete on-stage performance I believe that everyone enjoyed the show as it definitely engaged the audience. The actors took to the medium and did their best to enthrall the audience. Meagan Regale played the powerful rule of Madeline a fitting name as the character had a madness about her and personal acting ability captured the essence of Madeline allowing one to become absorbed. You could with ease forget the limits of seated arrangement and let your imagination soar.
Ricardo Vila-Roger took on the role of Roderick Usher and he carried it well. In fact, while sitting up there working the presentation, he seemed to take on a larger than life appearance. Even though the role of Roderick called for a sickly appearance, Vila-Roger played it out in his own way. From the gallery he seemed to stand well over 6 foot tall with broad shoulders and a booming voice he quickly became the embodiment of the Patriarch of the Usher line. He had immersed himself in the role, and performed admirably given the limited format he had to work with.
Johnny Terreri performed as the friend of Roderick, Thomas, and his looks and charisma carried him through the format. He surprised us when he fell for the charms of Madeline. Although, we only heard the events that transpired between Madeline and Thomas the descriptions were notorious indeed. He shocked the audience yet again being involved with the foul play that befell his wife Valerie. These surprises became especially acute given our expectation that Thomas would remain strong and not fall to the Usher curse. Johnny Terreri pulled it off engaging the audience with his skill and convincing mannerisms. He played this role to success.
The role of Valerie went to Katy Grant who performed the demure obedient wife. Her attraction to Roderick became too much for her and she succumbed to his charms, and even more to his perversions that once more, given the format, we could not view. As Valerie moved through the dialogue and scenes she changed, and Katy did her best to manage and display these metamorphoses as best she could, and she did succeed. She convinced us that she had fallen under the ill effects of the evil within the house. We were all aghast when Roderick, Madeline, and Thomas turned on her, driving her mad and at last reducing her very essence, into the red wine that the three gorged themselves on at the end.
Technically, you really cannot say a lot as the stage had been very limited. It simply had not been meant to be a format for special effects after all, for the most part, the actors simply sat and red. They needed only their belief that they could succeed, their skill and experience to rely upon, and the devotion to bring the work of Mr. McGovern to the people. They succeeded. Sadly, this one night happened to be the only performance and those who were not in attendance missed out on something most enjoyable.
However, Michael McGovern explained to me that he will be presenting some of his other works at the upcoming Pittsburgh Fringe Festival, and from what I gather he will be finishing up his novel titled, EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT VAMPIRES. Further, he will be presenting some component of this at the Beat Cabaret in the fall. I can honestly say, that if you get a chance to view his work, or buy his novel, or attend his fall event, well, I think you will be surprised and happy if you do. I, for one, will be looking forward to seeing more of his material in whatever format it comes.
Special thanks to the Beat Cabaret for two complimentary press tickets. For more information on the Beat Cabaret, check out their Facebook page here.
Photo credits Shawn Karabinos