Friday, 8 May 2015

21st Century Poe

Marty Ross is probably best known for his BBC radio plays - he has also been responsible for the scripts for audio versions of Doctor Who. Yet he also works in a live tradition: his versions of Edgar Allan Poe demonstrate his skill not only as an adaptor of classic texts, but as a story-teller.

Ross is presenting two of these shows - Falling for the Ushers, a witty update of Fall of the House of Usher that relocates the horror to the contemporary art world, and Heart Shaped Hole, which brings murder's guilt into the life of a Glaswegian junkie - as part of The Southside Fringe. Although he has taken previous solo shows to the Edinburgh Fringe, this is the first time that his pair of Poes have been bought to the city in which Ross grew up.

Perhaps because of his 'other life' as a playwright, Ross' vision of story-telling is not a simple, gentle chat. He plays multiple parts and, while he retains the Gothic atmospheres, he translates Poe's melodramas into a recognisable present. 

Using two conceptual artists as the victims in Falling for the Ushers lends a wry irony to the source story's brooding tragedy, and the junky protagonist of Heart Shaped Hole emphasises the timelessness of the subject matter: it is both a modern parable about guilt and a reassertion of a moral absolute (like, not killing people for fun or profit) without the trappings of its Victorian source.

In Ross' approach, story-telling is less a folk tradition than a modern monologue, with connections to (good) stand-up and character comedy, or the theatrical sophistication of The Woman in Black. It's a fine start to the Southside Fringe, recognising both the richness of the oral tradition and adding a determinedly contemporary sensitivity. 

21st Century Poe: Falling For The Ushers

Storyteller / playwright Marty Ross (BBC Radio; Doctor Who audio) updates Poe’s Fall Of The House Of Usher to Glasgow’s contemporary art scene in this vividly theatrical show, a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe & London Horror Festivals. “Ross has great aptitude for suspense & terror… a chilling conclusion” Scotsman

21st Century Poe: Heart Shaped Hole

In his second viscerally theatrical Poe show storyteller / playwright Marty Ross transfers The Tell-Tale Heart to modern Glasgow. Stanley tries to make a killing on the drug market. But what’s that sound he can’t get out of his head? “Insanely good storytelling… Trainspotting meets Gothic horror” 

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