An Evening with Hitchcock and Poe


Keelan Clifford and Gabby Guarna

This year’s Upper School fall play, An Evening with Hitchcock and Poe, is a pair of one act plays, performed one after another, even though the two are polar opposites. The first play, Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe, is a dramatic show about what goes on in the mind of infamous poet Edgar Allan Poe. The second play, The 39 Steps, is a thriller that takes on hilarious and suspenseful adventures through the moors of Scotland. Though very different, these productions compliment each other nicely.

Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe:

Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe is a dark tale about Poe and the madness that haunts him every day. Throughout the show, the audience follows Poe as he brings them into his dark mind. This darkness of his mind is brilliantly reflected by the dark lighting throughout the show, providing for an eerie experience.

The show begins with Poe (Will Pigott) walking out onto a dark stage, holding a lantern. Then, with chilling music in the background, the rest of the cast joins him, and they begin to recite one of Poe’s poems entitled “The Bells.” The poem, paired with all the actors saying their lines straight-faced, gives the show just what it needs: an eerie start. The play continues, with Poe telling the audience that he is not mad, yet the rest of the show leads you to believe that he just might be.

The drama features his bride (Charlotte Lombard), his mistress (Gemma Siegler), and his mother (Keely Clifford), all representing Lenore — a lost and loved woman, who mercilessly haunts him, though they are only extensions of his mind. It features the ever famous Raven (Lorelle Sang), who, with the Lenores, is there to torment Poe. Next, there is a frightening scene depicting Poe with a prisoner (Julia Longo), who is helplessly trying to escape death, from the bottomless pit to the swinging pendulum. Shortly thereafter, Poe tells us about how he used to help an old man (Michael Bashner) every day for a week, each day being very nice to him, but each night trying to get himself to kill the man. Then Poe gets nervous when two policemen (Lily Bradfield and Lorelle Sang) show up to search for a dead body. At this point, the lights come up much brighter than all other scenes in the show, and the policemen become the comedic relief in the so-far scary show. However, this is when the audience truly sees Poe’s madness as he reveals something to the policemen. This brings the show to its final scene, where again we see the whole cast (this time with the Raven played by Kellen Penner-Coxon) reciting “The Bells.”

Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe is brilliantly performed by all the actors. Each actor really captures their character to make for a dark, dramatic, and creepy experience with Edgar Allan Poe.

The 39 Steps:

The 39 Steps, a radio play based on Alfred Hitchcock’s timeless movie, is a fast-paced thriller that takes us through Scotland and England, with breaks, of course, for hilarious jingles for the Bates Motel, North by Northwest, and Vertigo (performed by jingle singers Audrey Wachter, Charlotte Lombard, Gemma Siegler, Kellen Penner Coxon, Lorelle Sang, and Hannah Berman). Since it is a radio play set in the 1940s, the actors only come up to the microphone when they have lines, and the sound girl (Hannah Berman) manages all the sound effects.

The play starts off with the announcer of WBFR Radio Playhouse (Aaron Goldin) asking us to tune in to what promises to be a suspenseful and thrilling night — and the show certainly lives up to his promise. We begin in a London music hall where Mr. Memory (Kellen Penner Coxon), a man who can amazingly answer any question with poise, is interrupted by a gunshot. The crowd goes wild and so does Annabella Smith (Ellie Pike), begging Mr. Hannay (Henry Pearson) to protect her from two men who are hot on her trail. That night, she is shot, but just before she passes away, she manages to tell Mr. Hannay that the 39 Steps is a foreign agency and asks him to see Professor Bartlett (Mosab Hamid) in Scotland.

Mr. Hannay sets out to find answers and escapes the police, who are after him for killing Annabella. On the way to Scotland he runs into a cigarette girl (Estella Lumer), two policemen (Avery Smith and Lien Acevedo), and a beautiful girl, Pamela Stewart (Gabby Guarna), who he kisses, but only to save himself from the police, of course. Mr. Hannay and Pamela then have uproarious adventures across the moors of Scotland where they manage to break free from handcuffs, disguise themselves as a married couple, and eventually figure out what the 39 Steps actually are.

You might be wondering who killed Annabella? What are the 39 Steps? What happens to Mr. Hannay and Pamela? Well, you’ll just have to see for yourself.