Adapted from the original book by Edgar Allan Poe The Tale Heart gothic horror novel is a sinister story with a deadly twist. Clarry Straven ( David Martin) stumbles upon the lodgings of Roderick Bounty (John Goodrum), a strange gentleman with a rather odd collection of belongings.
Haunted by the “Raven eye” of his host Bounty, Straven is unsettled and struggles to sleep at night, waking between 3-4 am each morning to check that his host and the eye are asleep. He fears his host and is unnerved by his presence. Yet there’s no obvious reason at first, just a slightly eccentric host who rents out his spare room.
Staged in front of a dark background with curtains drawn to keep out the light, which Bounty claims is to prevent robbers from looking in to see his treasure chests placed under the window. However, as the story unfolds, this turns out not to be the only reason.
The performance is strong through the first fifty minutes. The second half would benefit from editing during the conversation, which takes place between Straven and Inspector Morgan ( Gordon Johum), who calls around after a neighbour heard screams coming from the house. The tension built up after the events between Straven and Bounty became diluted with the quantity of dialogue from the Inspector, and at times, I lost track of where they were in the conversation.
I especially liked the rain and thunderstorm raging throughout the play. Adding an air of danger to the situation, claps of thunder were placed at points to make the audience jump and heightened the tension building up between the characters, waiting to explode.
Poe’s writing certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted Theatre goer. I enjoy being challenged and gripped by the tales such as The Tell-Tale Heart. Many twists in his work make for compelling viewing.
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Three and a half Stars