The Tell-Tale Heart – National Theatre (Dorfman)

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, this new play written and directed by Anthony Neilson offers plenty of Christmas-time chills.

It’s hard to describe the story in much detail without giving spoilers. In brief, a playwright (Tamara Lawrence) rents an attic room in Brighton to work on her next play and forms a relationship with her landlady (Imogen Doel), who wears an eye mask for reasons she doesn’t like to discuss.

Fans of the original Poe tale (printed in the programme) will know it doesn’t end well.

Lawrence and Doel admirably handle the multi-layered plot’s blend of comedy and horror without tipping it into farce. And I very much enjoyed the dual nature of David Carlyle’s detective.

It does go a bit Twilight Zone at times, but there are genuine shocks and scares to be had here, not least from the ingenious lighting and set design. The playwright’s typewriter is a particular delight.

After this you’ll never look at eyes – or eggs – in the same way.

 

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