‘Proves a gory & gothic delight’: THE TELL-TALE HEART – National Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Dorfman, National Theatre – until 8 January 2019

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.

The Writer wins a major playwriting award but declines it publicly and to escape the outrage caused, decamps to Brighton to write her second play. She’s looked after there by a delightfully offbeat Landlady who, while she keeps half her face hidden with a mask, opens up her heart and home.

These scenes are interspersed with The Writer’s interview with The Detective set at some point in the future. And where we thought The Writer’s name was Celeste, here it is Camille. Other details shift and slide and it becomes clear that there are stories within stories here, plays within plays.

This allows for any amount of strangeness to occur and everyone has a whale of a time with it. Francis O’Connor’s design is full of surprises, Nigel Edwards’ lighting is full of fun, particularly in its roving red spotlight, and the looming images of Andrzej Goulding’s video pass through like clouds.

David Carlyle is excellent as two versions of the detective (though should be struck down for the Company gag), the superb Imogen Doel injects just enough seriousness into the silliness of her lot, and Tamara Lawrance is a compelling central presence whose paranoia drives the action forward.

You wonder if there might have been one less theatrical in-joke, or a slightly tighter approach to the first act to get us to the schlock and gore. But there’s wit here and a surrealness that is hard to deny (the eggs!) which crucially, never takes itself too seriously.

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Manuel Harlan
The Tell-Tale Heart is booking at the National Theatre until 8th January
Like this:Like Loading…

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
Read more...

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

Leave a Comment