On September 27, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe set out on a lecture tour from Virginia to New York. Days later a train conductor saw Poe in Havre de Grace, Maryland, wearing a stranger’s clothing and heading south to Baltimore where he died on October 7. The Wilhelm Bros & Co. teams up with innovative stage director Thaddeus Phillips of Lucidty Suitcase Intercontinental to create an action-opera that follows the odd details surrounding Poe’s mysterious last days. Informed by 19th century train routes, historical accounts, and Poe’s letters to his mother-in-law Muddy, RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE comments on the nature of being an artist in America and casts Poe in a new light by exploring his writings on the gold rush, fools, furniture, and the universe.
The last, distraught days of Edgar Allan Poe are charted with spellbinding vitality in 'RED-EYE to Havre de Grace.' At times funny, at times heartbreaking, and from quirky start to haunting finish a feast of entrancing visual allurements, this exquisite show is among the most original musical theater works I've seen in years.
Using some poems and facts from Poe’s life, dramatic music by brothers David and Jeremy Wilhelm and haunting choreography by Sophie Bortolussi, the creators of “Red-Eye to Havre de Grace” have brought new light to a well-worn subject.
Phillips creates haunting and ultra-specific stage pictures using the most common of props, costumes, and set pieces: A table doubles as a door, a train compartment, and a hotel hallway.
Phillips’ expertly designed production also achieves a humane balance. Just when the material starts to lean toward the cerebral, the play’s generously allocated sense of humor kicks in. For a dance-heavy piece about a dying author, Red-Eye is as fleet as a Wes Anderson comedy and conveys many of that celebrated filmmaker’s same tropes.