LuminaTO 2009 – Nevermore, The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe

by Sam Mooney


The house lights were still up when Catalyst Theatre’s Nevermore, The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, started at the Winter Garden Theatre last night. It took the audience a couple of seconds to realize and to settle down but once they settled they were hooked. Nevermore was co-commissioned by LuminaTO as part of their celebration of Edgar Allan Poe and last night was the Toronto Premiere.

Nevermore is an amazing show.  And hard to describe.  It’s not really a musical, not really an opera, not really dance, not really poetry, not really a play.  It’s everything, perfectly combined.

It’s beautiful, funny, dark, stylized, atmospheric, engaging, entertaining, perfect. It’s an ensemble piece and the cast is fabulous. The costumes are quirky, funny, beautiful. The lighting sets the mood.

In my head I keep doing some kind of contrast and compare thing.  I saw 5 O’Clock Bells on Wednesday so my memory of it is still fresh.  Both shows are biographical with a healthy dose of imagined ‘detail’; in both the story is told by the other characters rather than by the ‘main’ character; and in both the lighting is an integral part of the set.

The difference is that Nevermore is lush while 5 O’Clock Bells is spare.  Nevermore’s lushness comes from the combination of song, dance, poetry and prose.  The transitions are seamless.  There were moments when I would suddenly realize that a character who has been speaking was now singing and I didn’t know when the change happened.  Everything seemed seamless; one character was singing and then it was another character and then back to the first and it wasn’t until it was the first character again that I noticed the change.

I could babble on for paragraphs trying to describe Nevermore and not succeeding so I’ll just say it’s wonderful.  Go see Nevermore.  Take your parents.  Take your kids.  You’ll all love it.

– Nevermore is playing at the Winter Garden Theatre (189 Yonge Street) until June 13
– Friday, June 12, and Saturday, June 13, performances are at 7.30 with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30
– Tickets are $30 – $50
– For more information visit the LuninaTO site

Photo of Nevermore cast by Bretta Gerecke