Anthony Neilson’s adaptation of The Tell-Tale Heart for the National Theatre updates the original, adding slasher film shocks while retaining the intense strangeness of the original.
Can you really turn a three-page short story into a full-length play? What would you add, and how would you avoid accusations of padding? Anthony Neilson’s new version of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, a classic gothic chiller which was first published in 1843, has to confront this issue head-on
Expectations are high for a festive ghost story from the National. With its world-class resources, the theatre offers a wondrous potential to stage the most chilling of tales and when the source material is a famed Edgar Allan Poe short chiller, the anticipation is only heightened. But in Anthony Neilson’s The Tell-Tale Heart transplant, Poe’s gloriously gothic original is served up as a modern-day Christmas turkey.
Edgar Allan Poe via Anthony Neilson might not seem the typical recipe for your festive fare but The Tell-Tale Heart proves a gory and gothic delight. Marking Neilson’s National Theatre debut, it is a typically free-wheeling affair, a playfully post-modern take on Poe.
Wonderful: While not specifically Christmassy, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland at Edinburgh’s Lyceum proves an ideal fit for the festive season. Hugely colourful, funny, and fascinating, it is thoroughly involving and a little disorienting.