Title: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party
Aired/Released: August 22 – November 7, 2016
Starring: Sean Persaud, Sinéad Persaud, Mary Kate Wiles
Genre(s): Mystery, Comedy
Run Time: 11 episodes and an epilogue
My Rating: 9/10
In an attempt to impress his
crush friend Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe decides to host a dinner party with the help of Lenore, the ghost who is haunting him. The guest list features many famous literary figures, ranging from Agatha Christie to Ernest Hemingway. The highlight of the evening is a roleplaying murder mystery game, but when an actual murder occurs, the various characters are forced to become allies and seek out the killer hidden among them before it is too late.
When I first stumbled upon this on Youtube after finishing The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (you can read a mini review I wrote for it here), I, the book and history nerd, couldn’t help but squeal (internally, mind you) in delight. A historical web series about famous authors and centered around a series of murders? I was already hooked.
So, what exactly does Poe Party have that makes it great? According to Edgar Allan Poe: “Comedy. Tragedy. Romance. Intrigue. Ravens.” But in addition to these elements, the series also boasts: literary puns, historical allusions, shocking plot twists, engaging characters, witty dialogue, well-developed character relationships, and of course, the murder mystery that starts out as a game but becomes all too real. (And there lies one of the few flaws of the series that I will cover later in this post.)
But first a little background: crowdfunded by a Kickstarter that exceeded its goal of $55,000 by raising $72,140, Poe Party was created and written by the Persaud siblings (who are also producers for Shipwrecked Comedy). (In addition to these duties, they play two of the main characters: Edgar Allan Poe and Lenore the Lady Ghost. Another fun fact: the two remaining Shipwrecked Comedy producers, Sarah Grace Hart and Mary Kate Wiles, play Emily Dickinson and Annabel Lee respectively.) If I’m being honest, such a budget amazes me. It took only a tiny fraction of the typical Hollywood multi-million dollar budget to create such a work that arguably could be called more original than most big-budget films found at the movie theater. (And it’s of equal length.) Which goes to show, money can’t guarantee quality.
I don’t think I can praise Poe Party enough. From watching this, I could tell it was a labor of love. Everyone involved poured their heart and soul into their roles and also clearly had a lot of fun. The end result was these loveable, or at the very least, sympathetic, characters. The costuming was amazing and perfectly fit the characters’ personalities. (A special shoutout to Lenore’s beautiful white dress!) The set perfectly matched the suspenseful atmosphere. (If it were a real house, I think I would actually enjoy living there if I had the chance.) The final reveal of who murdered the authors, along with several other victims, and the series’ resolution were immensely satisfying. (I like to think that I guessed correctly. Sort of.) The epilogue was a wonderfully sweet ending to it all.
The flaw that I hinted at earlier stems from the fact that the series focuses on a string of murders. This, unfortunately, doesn’t always allow for much character development for those who are killed very early on in the plot. And well, since this is a series full of murder and mayhem, many lives are cut short. (The moral of the story? Don’t get emotionally attached to anyone.)
I would strongly recommend Poe Party: it is a rare series that can make you instantly fall in love with the story and characters. So, what are you waiting for? You can watch the first episode here! Thanks for reading!