The Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theater (PICT) is currently showing “Two Tales of Terror,” an excellently executed adaptation of the famous Edgar Allen Poe stories, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. Adapted for the stage by Alan Stanford, the performance utilized minimal actors, props, or set pieces…however, vibrant and vivid imagery continued to flow through the reels of my imagination throughout the entire show. In the first segment of the 85 minute show, I found that the actor, Justin Lonesome, telling us story of The Tell-Tale Heart had such clear and apparent intention. Drawing the audience in through specific and captivating blocking and a manipulation of the voice that you might hear in your nightmares, I felt myself on the edge of my seat despite the fact I know very well how the story goes. I felt more like I was being told a story one on one, rather than seeing a performance in a room full of people.
The Fall of the House of Usher was the second segment of my night of terror. This adaptation of Mr. Poe’s work introduced us to three characters. Usher himself, portrayed by Jonathan Visser, was just as I had imagined him, looking like royalty. The uptight saunter Visser gave the character may seem like small detail, but this was one of my favorite parts of the show. The way in which the narrator and Usher’s sister Madeline (James Fitzgerald and Karen Baum), used their movement to bring not only words to life, but imagery and props as well.
Also, absolutely fabulous job on the makeup and costume design, especially in the House of Usher. Usher and his delusional sister look truly gaunt, truly terrifying, truly how Poe would have wanted them to look. I would have to say my favorite part of the show was the revival of Madeline, in which there was a flash of lightning, then darkness, and then as the lights rose, Madeline appeared covered in blood!. I jumped, but in a good way! Working beautifully with the movement of the actors and flow of the words throughout the whole show, I felt the lighting offered a heavy contribution to the creepy, haunted-house feeling of the show.
If you are faint of nerve or prone to nightmares, this may not be the show for you, but for those of us who enjoy a good ghost story, or a gnarly horror movie…. This is a must see!
Special thanks to PICT Classic Theatre for complimentary press tickets. Two Tales of Terror runs through Friday May 20th at the Henry Heymann Theatre. For tickets and more information, click here.
*Please note, the performance that was reviewed was a preview.