Synetic Theater’s “Madness of Poe” is deliciously gruesome


Synetic Theater director and co-founder Paata Tsikurishvili presented us with very creative vanity. He took Edgar Allan Poe’s iconic gothic poem “The Raven” and his macabre short story of a ruined family in “The Fall of the House of Usher” and layered them in clever juxtaposition. Bracketed by Poe’s romantic poem “Lenore”, used here as a reference to Poe’s lost love. Placing the story in Usher’s most evil and corrupt house, we see Poe’s tortured soul as he is agonized over what became his first successful poem, later known as one of greatest poems ever written. It’s a clever mashup that perfectly combines Poe’s extraordinary knack for the Victorian horror genre with the artistic license and brilliant originality that Synetic Theater is famous for.

Ryan Sellers as Edgar and Maryam Najafzada as Raven in “The Madness of Poe”. Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

Upon invitation, Poe arrives home to visit his old friend Roderick, who is clearly in the midst of a nervous breakdown. He is expected to appease Roderick and cheer him up like old friends do. But Poe is in no condition to offer comfort, for he too is at the end of his tether, and the haunting of the house, the strange sound of distant bells and the walls that seem to speak of death and destruction do not bode well. nothing. good for that countryside retreat.

A clear break with their silent productions, Synetic has chosen speaking actors, and we are guided by the words of Poe, which are situated between genius and madness. It’s not for kids, because there’s the incestuous relationship between Roderick Usher, the opium-smoker offshoot of Usher House, and his sister-in-law Madeline, who suffers from unpredictable seizures. Add to that a horror-steeped house, a catatonic servant, and a pack of angry specters who show up whenever and wherever they want. It’s deliciously awful – if that’s your cup of tea – and I think I’ll have a cup of tea, if that’s no problem at all.

The Ensemble as The House and Ryan Sellers as Edgar in “The Madness of Poe”. Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

I was completely captivated by The Raven with its steel talons and black feathered avian figure hypnotically played by Maryam Najafzada, who is pure magic in the role; and Nutsa Tediashvili as Madeline, who floats weightlessly or frighteningly depending on whether she is convulsing or walking in a dreamlike state and appears as if she has just stepped out of an Alphonse Mucha painting; and Megan Khaziran as Lenore, who is ethereal as Poe’s doomed inamorata.

If you know Synetic’s productions, you know that they are teeming with physically demanding classical and modern dance, acrobatics, chaos and fierce fight scenes. The romantic pas de deux is followed by tumultuous battles and accompanied by atmospheric electronic and synth-pop music and vibrant siege sound effects.

All in all a perfectly ghoulish night at the theater.

Duration: 90 minutes, without intermission.

Poe’s madness plays until October 31, 2021, at Synetic Theater in the Crystal City Shops subway, 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington, VA. Tickets are $ 10 to $ 60 and are available in line, at the theater box office (open one hour before the show), or by phone at (703) 824-8060 ext. 117.

Synetic Theater COVID security protocols are here.


With Ryan Sellers as Edgar; Alex Mills as Roderick; Maryam Najafzada as the Raven; Philip Fletcher as a servant; and Megan Khaziran as Lenore; with Scean Aaron, Aaron Kan and Ariel Kraje overall.

Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili; Choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili; Associate choreographer, Maryam Najafzada; Adapted by Katherine DuBois; Original adaptation of “The Fall of the Usher House” by Nathan Weinberger; Costume design by Alexa Duimstra; Stage and real estate design by Phil Charlwood; Sound design by Justin Schmitz; and lighting design by Doug Del Pizzo.

SEE ALSO: Synetic to produce next season both in person and in theaters (season announcement)


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