The House of Edgar at Wimbledon Studios

House of Edgar
The House of Edgar at Wimbledon Studios

The House of Edgar is a musical by Thomas F. Arnold which combines the work of Edgar Allan Poe with the true story of Rufus Griswold. Griswold was Poe’s rival who was handed over the keys to his estate. When Griswold begins to rifle through the books, Poe’s works begin to come to life in front of his eyes.

House of EdgarThe way Poe’s poetry was set to music was done intelligently with numbers such as ‘The Raven’ piquing my interest. I am not overly familiar with Poe’s work and I think this did distract from the piece as it was harder to appreciate the work that had gone into fitting his words and works into the piece and recognise the origins of the work.

I found the piece hard to follow and wonder at the relevance of some of the numbers in developing the musical. It would have been useful to have more narrative in order to link each number to the story. As stand alone numbers however some of them were particularly strong. I have already mentioned the Raven which not only incorporates a haunting song but a strong movement performance by Sarah Dean. ‘Annabel Lee’ was also haunting but again more context would have been preferable in order to understand the meaning of this number in the context of the show.

House of EdgarThe cast is formed up of 7 performers, the composer himself on keys and Kate Smethurst on the violin. The accompaniment to the songs fitted the haunting theme and showed that the simplicity of 2 instruments can work just as well as large bands. Many of the performers doubled up in the roles they took one within Poe’s work although the roles they took all had similar themes within the works.

Overall The House of Edgar needs some work on it’s narrative to help the links between Poe’s work and the story that is being told become more apparent however many of the numbers show promise and strong themes drive this show forward.

Thank you to Theatre Bloggers for the tickets to see The House of Edgar. To find out more about this group of bloggers visit their website. 

If you like this review you might also like my review of Knights of the Rose, Heathers and Chicago. 


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