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.
King Lear is the jewel in the crown of Daniel Evans’ opening year as Chichester’s Artistic Director. Ian McKellen is every inch a king in Jonathan Munby’s production that is currently playing a short, sold-out season
As I wrote when the full cast was first announced, “the world is hardly crying for more productions of King Lear, but if you’re going to put it on, you might as well go balls out on some amazing casting”.
Ian McKellen immediately makes the intimate space his own, the dialogue almost conversational and his Lear a warm-hearted soul with a twinkle in his eye. This is surely as good as it gets, an actor using every bit of knowledge he has acquired in a storied career to make his role feel so natural.
Uneasy lies the head that waits for the crown. Mike Barlett’s King Charles III was a deserved award-winning success when it took the Almeida by storm in 2014, transferring into the West End and then Broadway, later touring the UK and Australia too.
There’s nowt so queer as folk, at least not in Simon Godwin’s version of Illyria here. A gender-swapped Malvolia longs after her mistress Olivia, hipster-fop Sir Andrew Aguecheek is entirely smitten by a flirtatious Toby Belch, Antonio follows up his snog with Sebastian by inviting him to a rendez-vous at local drag bar The Elephant.
Somewhat appropriately in the week following International Men’s Day with its theme this year of male suicide, two shows tackling the subject open in London.