Audio review: “A Midnight Dreary: Etched in the Wall” by We Happy Few
Either the Darkness is changing—
Or something in sight
Adjusts to midnight. . .
These and other lines from Emily Dickinson’s poem, “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark”, introduce an “Etched in the Wall”, the latest offering for home listening on “A Midnight Dreary” by We Happy Few , a local Capitol Hill-based theater company that began producing unusual audio pieces during the pandemic. Directed by Des’ree Brown, it is the last in the series based on works by Edgar Allan Poe. In fact, the title of the series “A Midnight Dreary” is borrowed from Poe’s famous poem “The Raven”.
This third installment of ‘A Midnight Dreary’ presents and goes beyond the Poe artwork…
This third installment of “A Midnight Dreary” presents and goes beyond the Poe artwork – “expand into non-Poe territory”, as Artistic and Marketing Director Kerry McGee calls it. This is confirmed by the poem by Emily Dickinson quoted above, read with emotion and atmosphere appropriate to Poe by Paige O’Malley. Playing “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark” in a “Midnight Dreary” context brings an unusual Gothic association to Emily Dickinson which, in the end, is not out of place, as it is an effective introduction to “The Black Cat. “from Poe. “Poe’s classic horror story and the rest of this third appearance of“ A Midnight Dreary ”arrive just in time for Halloween!
In this famous tale by Poe, a young man who is initially married and lover of animals becomes hostile, violent and paranoid due to his alcoholism. This unfortunate change in character comes with horrific consequences, including a fire that destroys the couple’s home after their cat, Pluto (a name associated with the god of the underworld in classical mythology), becomes the narrator’s archenemy.
Isaiah Harvey’s intense performance as narrator is excellent, as is the strategy of getting his wife (played with the same verve by Gabby Wolfe) to read many lines about her. The greatest gift We Happy Few gives its audiences in its dramatization “Black Cat” is its amazing use of Robert Pike sound effects, especially the realistic sounds of couples’ animals including a dog, a monkey and, well. sure, the black cat. The gory scenes in the tale are also made more graphic through the skillful use of sound design. Finally, the sound effects help to understand the language of 19th century writing, faithful to the verbiage of Poe. No wonder We Happy Few recommends listening through “a sound system with high quality stereo sound”.
“The Black Cat” is associated with “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, an 1892 tale similar in terms of central relationships, theme of madness, and presence of walls. Tẹmídayọ Amay powerfully portrays a writer named Jane, who has just given birth and is diagnosed with a case of nerves by her doctor husband, John. He gives her a dubious “rest cure” and dissuades her from writing – a suppression of her imaginative skills that causes him to see a woman slipping behind hideous yellow wallpaper into a room in which she is actually a prisoner. Where is the creepy woman actually there? Or is she perhaps a manifestation of Jane herself and other repressed women of the time? The Victorian classic oscillates between questions of feminism, postpartum depression and horror. From the moment it opens, when Jane talks about “a colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house”, the tale fits perfectly into the spooky genre “Midnight Dreary”. Isaiah Harvey, the narrator and star of “The Black Cat”, also plays the husband to great effect in the “Yellow Wallpaper” segment, providing an additional connection to the first tale.
This third part of “A Midnight Dreary” ends with a reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “A Dream Within a Dream”. Like Dickinson’s poem that begins the episode, “A Dream Within a Dream” is generally not considered a work of horror, but with Paige O’Malley’s reading supported by a suggested windswept landscape. through evocative sound effects, the poem fits perfectly into the midnight atmosphere of “A Midnight Dreary”.
Finally, we note with appreciation a particularity of the We Happy Few home productions: a package with trinkets can be ordered by mail, offering listeners a more tactile experience. In the case of “The Black Cat”, there are two tarot cards (one depicting a cat and one with twins), a book of matches from the pub that the dipsomaniac narrator presumably frequents, and even cat etiquette. Pluto. As for “The Yellow Wallpaper,” something that claims to be a “nervous tonic” accompanies a torn portion of the yellow wallpaper itself, with its “blazing sprawling patterns that commit all artistic sins,” as Jane describes it. A torch candle is included in the shipment to create a gothic setting at home for the two tales.
In addition to “A Midnight Dreary,” We Happy Few produces two mysteries in November: a Sherlock Holmes and one of his contemporaries, Loveday Brooke. Building on the current outstanding production of “Midnight Dreary”, we look forward to “Loveday Brooke in the Murder at Troyte’s Hill” and “Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Norwood Builder”.
Duration: 48 minutes.
“A Midnight Dreary: Etched in the Wall,” presented by DC’s We Happy Few, should ideally be ordered in time to arrive for Halloween. here.