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Iron Crow Theatre Company successfully conjures Poe's spirit

There is one more week left of "The Homo Poe Show," Iron Crow Theatre Company's daring and ever so cheeky production of four new plays and choreography inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. If you haven't caught it yet, give it a try.

The production, the company's first commissioning project, attempts to reinterpret Poe from a gay perspective. You can argue whether there is much need for that, or much point. But there are a lot of interesting ideas at work.

OK, so there's some silly and not fully thought-through stuff, too, including way too much aerial activity that feels stuck onto the staging. And each of the plays could use tweaks of one sort or another. Still, it all adds up to a reasonably entertaining, often absorbing experience.

Naturally, this being Poe-based, themes of romantic and erotic obsession prevail. Daniel Talbott's "Thomas" is especially effective at conjuring up this aspect of Poe's spirit.

Inspired by the short story "Eleonora," the playwright packs a lot of emotional vibrancy into a compact little story about cousins who have a torrid affair before death intervenes. The writing manages to be at once Poe-ish and fresh, with the bulk of the material in the form of narration, Poe's favorite, delivered in richly nuanced style by Nick Horan.

Shadows of death and longing are all over Steven J. Satta's "Grieving and Sequins," a work haunted by "The Masque of the Red Death."

AIDS provides the undercurrent to a story about the self-confined Rory (a vibrant Horan), who is visited by the ghost of his partner (the engaging Sean Elias) and the spectre of death (a nicely understated Alec Weinberg). Old friends keep calling to coax Rory back outside for partying. 

Satta digs into many issues here, and does so with considerable skill, gently pushing emotional buttons and adding enough wit to keep things from getting sticky.

Speaking of wit, Rich Espey's "The Trick," which incorporates references to several Poe pieces, offers good laughs while neatly satirizing the obsession with youth and beauty. Elias is again in vivid form as a man trying to keep the clock from ticking. There's fine support from Jon Dallas in multiple roles and Jenna Rossman as Time.

Megan Gogerty's "Super-Hot Raven" gets the 'L' of the LGBT world into the show with a droll flourish. Playing off of Poe's most famous poem, and tossing in references to his life story, Gogerty's compact play involves the unexpected relationship between a poet (a delightful Meggie Twible) and the sly woman in a Baltimore Ravens shirt (an equally effective Madeline Hicks) she finds in her apartment repairing the radiator.

Mara Neimanis' aerial performances, even with a passing reference to "The Pit and the Pendulum," add little to the evening. But Tony Byrd's kinetic pas de deux about -- yes, obsession again -- is rather striking, danced with impressive tightness by Bryd and Weinberg.

Final peformances of "The Homo Poe Show" are Wednesday through Saturday.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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