The Tell-Tale Heart

Posted on: 28 August 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Edgar Allan Poe's gothic tale of murder arrives on stage at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival.

No more intense performance could be found in the official festival than Austrian actor Martin Niedermair’s gripping monologue which takes you inside the mind of a deranged murderer in Barrie Kosky’s masterly 60-minute stage version of Edgar Allan Poe’s dark, gothic tale of obsession and guilt The Tell-Tale Heart (Royal Lyceum Theatre).

This is the story of a sociopathic loner who kills his elderly neighbour because he has become transfixed and troubled by the man’s ‘evil eye’. Yet as he rants on a staircase, pursued by shadows, the heart of his victim continues to beat beneath the floorboards.

When he is not crawling the long, narrow staircase like some human insect, Niedermair channels his emotions into facial contortions - nervous twitches, looks of horror, hissing and manic excitement. It is an all consuming role, partly reminiscent of the German Expressionist cinema of the 30s and it keeps you mesmerised throughout.

Furthermore Kosky’s musical accompaniment - songs by Bach, Purcell and Wolf are interwoven into the drama - heightens the haunting feel of the production.

By Laurence Green

Web Links - Edinburgh International Festival website

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