POE-ETIC LICENSE - Hollywood Fringe Festival at Asylum @ Thymele Arts

Edgar Allen Poe and Bob Dylan Mashed Up 
Review By Dana Benson

I was fortunate to experience a unique theatrical performance at the Fringe Festival on June 20. Mad scientist/practicing laser physicist Dr. Bradley Bobbs acted out a witty, comic, and musical interpretation of Edgar Allen Poe's poetry entitled "Poe-Etic License." Musical director Daniel Collins, producer-chanteuse Alaya Aquarian, stage manager Pam Noles, and musicians Dr. Robert Strong, Jon Ward, Janet Housden, and E-Roy Hilligros assisted. 

The play featured an artful weaving of Bob Dylan's musical poetry into the fabric of Poe's work, in addition to "straight" recitations of Poe's "The Bells" and "The Raven." Bobbs, who has taught physics and holds a PhD from UCLA (in addition to working on laser research for the past thirty years), is well known for his Poe interpretations.

In 2020, he was challenged to perform Dylan's poetry while in the character of Edgar Allen Poe at the Venice Beach Dylan Festival. Out of that experience, he was inspired and spent many months studying the work of both men and writing the manuscript, which became the backbone of the current show. As Bobbs says about both artists, he "exercises just the tiniest bit of poetic license" in presenting their works."

Bobbs has merged the work of these writers in a way that preserves its integrity while creating something new. The musicians performed in Dia del Muerte-style makeup/Death Metal corpse paint, their faces powdered white and eyes framed by black eye shadow, perhaps an homage to the horror themes in much of Poe's work and Dylan's experiment with white face paint during his Rolling Thunder Review Tour back in the 1970s.

The mashup opened with the band playing some bars from Dylan's "Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven's Door."  Then Bobbs launched into his monologue, sometimes accompanied by the band. The actress of many parts, Alaya Aquarian, played a clown, a raven, and treated us to a Raven Dance with her gigantic shimmering blue wings.

The finale was a song and dance number in which musical director Collins, producer-chanteuse Alaya Aquarian, and Bobbs, accompanied by the band, sang a light-hearted song whose chorus was "There's No Rhymer Like Poe" to the music of the song "There's No Business Like Show Business" written for the movie of the same name by Irving Berlin. 

It's too bad the Fringe Festival has ended. I hope this thoughtful and well-executed show finds another venue and continues. It honors two of America's great writers and combines them in a way I don't believe has been done before. Bravo, Dr. Bobbs, and company!

For more information on Bobbs and the other artists, please google them or friend them on Facebook.

Poe-etics continues Thursday June 27 at 9:15PM and Saturday, June 29 at 5:30PM. It runs 50 minutes at the Asylum@Thymele Arts (California Room) 5481 Santa Monica Blvd.s

Posted By DH Magazine on June 22, 2024 05:15 pm | Permalink