The work of master of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe, the 19th-century American poet and short story writer, provides the inspiration for Nevermore, an “enthrallingly grotesque musical” care of Canadian troupe Catalyst Theatre, which will receive its UK premiere at the Barbican Theatre this summer. The piece, subtitled The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, runs for six performances only from 6 to 10 July 2010 as part of bite10 and LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre).

Nevermore takes its title from the refrain - “Quote the raven, nevermore” - of Poe’s most famous poem, The Raven (1845), in which a talking raven pays a midnight visit to a distressed lover and impels his descent into madness. Originally conceived in celebration of the bicentenary of Allan Poe’s 1809 birth and premiered in Canada in 2008, the musical is billed as “an homage to the iconic misfit whose work has developed a cult following, an ode to his fantastical fictions and lamentable life”.

According to Poe, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream” – Catalyst’s adult musical fable offers a dark, fantastical rendering of the Gothic dreamscape of Poe’s life through striking visuals, heightened physical performances, poetic text and a chilling score.

Poe’s many other famous works included “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Telltale Heart”, “Annabel Lee”, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Masque of the Red Death”. His catalogue also recently provided the inspiration for Punchdrunk’s hit 2007 promenade piece The Masque of the Red Death. The man himself died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40 in 1849.

Nevermore is written, directed and composed by Jonathan Christenson, designed by Bretta Gerecke and choreographed by Laura Krewski, with sound by Wade Staples. It’s performed by Shannon Blanchet, Sheldon Elter, Beth Graham, Ryan Parker, Garett Ross, Vanessa Sabourin and Scott Shpeley.

Catalyst Theatre was last in the UK in 2005 with Carmen Angel, which followed The Blue Orphan (2002), The House of Pootsie Plunket (2001 & 1999) and Elephant Wake (1996). Nevermore is part of LIFT 2010, which takes place from 23 June to 18 July 2010 at venues across London.