Lewis Carroll had to invent the Mad Hatter because he was the perfect reflection of the century Carroll lived in. In our era, we give nutjobs a camera, a microphone and a reality TV show, or put them on FOX News, or give them millions of dollars and let them run for the Presidential nomination of the Republican Party. In the 19th Century, nutjobs grabbed a pen. Ed Goodman’s hilarious THEPOESHOW kicks them into life and smacks them down on the couch of the talk show where, really, they’ve always belonged.
Brendan Hunt polishes a drop dead deadpan to a wicked gleam as host Edgar Allen Poe and leads us through a whirring cavalcade of the repressed, the depressed and the tubercular. Casts rotate, but most of the ensemble hails from the Sacred Fools Theater Co. and are more than adept at taking the bizarre and spinning it up to crazy. Emily Bronte, Mary Shelly, Tom Sawyer, Abraham Lincoln, Victor Frankenstein, George Armstrong Custer, the Raven … all are portrayed with a mad smile and an evil glint to to nothing less than hysterical ends. Do not be alarmed when Mr. Goodman’s Mark Twain appears as a bolt of white, but do be prepared to laugh.
Producer David Mayes and Director Scott Leggett help keep THEPOESHOW tight, never missing a commercial break or sports update to keep us abreast of events from over a century ago. This is easily one of the best comedies of this year’s Fringe.