A Modern “Poe Man” at Orlando Fringe

I love fringe festivals. They’re such a great way to take chances on new art and artists, and I devote time every year to coverage of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I didn’t get to attend as much as I wanted to at Orlando Fringe this year, but here are my thoughts on what I did see.  

You choose a one-man Poe show at a Fringe Festival, your odds are 50/50 at best.

Devennie has a series of images for his show, and this is my second favorite.

I’m glad I caught Poe Man by Joe Devennie: I admittedly entered the show a bit snobbish and left with a firm appreciation of Poe’s lasting effect on the American psyche.


I think of Poe, I think early America: rough, young yet still slightly tinged with a British sound. That’s why I’m glad Devennie begins with “The Telltale Heart”. His no-frills approach to the language eases you into his way of telling this story, his Poe — closer to the cool High School English teacher than a muggy idea of Poe drowning in its own importance and expectations.

Devennie draws his “Telltale Heart” narrator straight from the headlines of “He was such a nice, normal boy. I had no idea he could do this sort of thing” [19th century spoilers: he murders a housemate because the old man’s eye puts him off.] We are at least five minutes into his telling before Devennie even raises his voice or shows any signs beyond normalcy. You could be asking him where the nearest bathroom is before he slips into the first sign that something is not quite right.

It’s a great way to present this story, and one that feels all too real in the American of today.


I don’t recall ever reading this one. A dwarf, forced into slavery as a court jester (and often the subject of ridicule as well), takes a well planned, maniacal revenge on the King who causes his and his only friend pain.

Devennie uses his well-honed storytelling chops to great effect. I found myself wishing we were actually around a campfire, hearing his words illuminated by chance with fire. Also, love this story! Any show that makes me want to crack open that thick hardcover of The Collected Works of Poe I’ve had for two years has earned its ticket price.

Poe’s description of the slow toll that abuse and bullying takes on a person’s psyche also feels too relevant and real in today’s world.

The Raven

Devennie started The Raven strong, with an old Southern “let me tell you a story on my front porch but I’ve had a few too many” vibe. It was well done and Devennie certainly more than did it justice. The character, however, didn’t reveal anything new about the story. I almost wish he had never left his “porch chair,” and told the whole tale from there. Even though it didn’t add up, ending a Poe adventure on “Nevermore” is never a poor choice.

His last show is an hour after I am publishing this, but he is an Orlando Fringe regular, so keep him on your radar for next year. 


This is my favorite image for his show. 


Adventures in the Arts: Drama After Dark

I’ve had a lot of fun adventures around town lately. Here is one recent highlight:

Signs guide you towards your first destination.

Drama After Dark: A Night of Gorey & Poe at Huntington Gardens

You arrive at Huntington Gardens and swap your ticket receipt for a map of 20 minute performances and where on the grounds of Huntington Gardens to see them. There is some hot cider and cookies next to the signs in the image above. If you’re smart, you bring a flashlight. For although it doesn’t seem quite dark enough for a chilly Poe monologue recited by excellent actors when you start at 6:30pm, by the end of our first encounter, nature has set along with our characters’ sanity.

There’s no way to see everything. I chose Imp of the Perverse, Pit and the Pendulum (the only offering inside a room for reasons that become frighteningly clear five minutes into one man’s Hell), Gorey 1 & Gorey 2, Berenice (one I urged my group to see because it is such a subtly frightening story) and Masque of the Red Death. It’s such a fun time and encapsulates so much of what makes a successful live theatrical experience: timely (near Halloween), unique, an audience choose-your-own-adventure, high demand and just plain fun.

Yes, it is this dark and fun
Yes, it is this dark and fun

Any complaints about performance from previous years are either much tighter or I chose more wisely this year. One gripe that I believe is out of the producers’ control: Keep the Huntington Gardens Gift Shop open after the show. Better yet, sell Poe & Gorey items from a cart while people gather back at the exit. You’ll more than make your money back for having to pay a staffer overtime.

Follow on Facebook & Twitter (though they aren’t incredibly active). I always hear about it through actors Corey Blake and Kendra Chell (no guarantee they’ll be in it every year, but both are worth following regardless). Next year I’ll try to give you a heads-up before tickets go on sale. Event also sponsored by AJS Costumes – lucky them!


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