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TO OCT. 30
Original goth poster boy Edgar Allan Poe isn’t often played for laughs, but that’s only part of what makes Meat & Potato Theatre Company’s Poe 2000, an evening of dramatized works, so exhilarating. This young troupe (Katie Taylor-Rollins, Jeffrey A. Wisniewski, and director/adapter Tobin Atkinson, pictured) presents 10 works, each with its own sensibility. In the stunning opener, “The Raven,” Atkinson matches wits with a pale, bobble-headed buzzard while covered head to toe in a white robe, black mask, and a series of colorful googly eyes, brought to groovy life by black lights. Next, “The Tell-Tale Heart” meets Douglas Sirk meets DW Griffith as a model ’50s housewife tries to get away with murder, communicating only with silent-movie-style slides. “Annabel Lee” and “The Haunted Palace” are recited straight, serving to cleanse the palate. “The Bells,” however, gets da funk brought in by composer John Coulter, and the cast electric boogaloos the bejeezus out of it. That’s the last comic interlude, because “The Pit and the Pendulum,” transported to present-day Iraq, brings the evening to its haunting conclusion. The prisoner facing chiffonade is played by a weird, marshmallowy puppet whose arms, legs, and head are controlled by the actors. I would normally cross the street to avoid any kind of puppet, but somehow this “performance” certifies what a freaking genius Poe was and how worthy of him this company is. There are only about 25 seats per show, so snag one while you can at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday (with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday), through Sunday, Oct. 30, at 1409 Playbill Cafe, 1409 14th St. NW. $15. (703) 587-5730. (Janet Hopf)