(Kerry Reid’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 10/5.)

Some 163 years ago this month, Edgar Allan Poe died at age 40, though the cause of his premature death remains as shrouded in mystery as his famous tales. The theories floated have encompassed everything from alcoholism to rabies. But "The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story" suggests that the cause was a broken heart.

In David Rice's adaptation of Poe stories, poems and biographical details, which is enjoying its fourth seasonal outing since 2006 with First Folio Theatre in the suitably gloomy neo-Tudor mansion of coal baron Francis Peabody, the Poe we meet is torn asunder by a cascading series of losses. Ask not for whom "The Bells" (the Poe poem with which the evening begins) toll — they toll for him and his loved ones, including his mother, foster mother and, most famously, his young cousin and child bride, Virginia.



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