Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday's Favorite OTR

NBC University Theater: “Tales of Edgar Allen Poe” 3/6/49

NBC University Theater dramatized classic literature and important modern novels, provided a commentator to discuss the novel/author at the halfway mark and provided listeners a chance to earn college credits for listening. Not a bad deal, really, since their dramatizations were really, really good.

This particular episode adapts three Edgar Allen Poe stories. In my last book (Radio by the Book), I remark several times how the various anthology shows were fond of Poe. His stories seemed tailor-made for radio. They were just the right length to fit into a show’s time slot and if you could preserve the beauty and rhythm of the original prose, you were bound to do something worthwhile.

University Theater was an hour-long, so they manage to fit three Poe stories pretty comfortably into their time slot. They begin with one of Poe’s lesser-known work. “Lionizing” (renamed “Noseology” for the radio adaptation) is about a man who pretty much makes his living by having the most prominent nose in Europe, something that earns him an endless supply of invitations to the homes of the best families. It’s a reminder that Poe wasn’t always morbid and did actually have a sense of humor.

“The Cask of Amontillado” is marred slightly by the addition of a little too much extra dialogue, but is still pretty good. “The Fall of the House of Usher” is very well-done and appropriately creepy.

The Literature professor doing the commentary loses a point for describing “The Tell-Tale Heart” as a lesser work, but otherwise gives us some thoughtful insights into Poe’s canon.

Click HERE to listen or download.

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