The Tell-Tale Heart

The lockdown goes on and theatre will likely not return anytime soon. Thus comes my first ever review of a performance shown over the medium of Facebook Live.

Our eyes were glued to his, hanging on his every word.

ThreeDumb Theatre’s Stephen Smith has cleverly taken Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Tell-Tale Heart, and dramatized it into one hell of a monologue complete with props and clever camera angles. The Tell-Tale Heart is one man’s confession of a dark deed that was committed in the night, and the events that occurred after. The story is, as you would expect considering its author, macabre, grotesque and filled with gothic imagery throughout. For a piece that is mostly focussed on an eye that is never seen, Stephen’s own eyes are magnificent at expressing the madness of his character as he recounts and re-enacts his story. To see them this up-close is a privilege given to us by the current state of affairs we find ourselves in.

Clocking in at just 20 minutes this livestream is the perfect way to get your fix of theatre. I was wary of how this would work but was thrilled by the results. A massive credit must go to Stephanie Van Den Driesen whose music, sound and light effects were far better than could possibly have been hoped for. They were always bang-on cue and really helped ramp up the tension. David Smith’s camerawork also suited the tale well. Close-up shots of Stephen’s face, shimmering with sweat, as he enlightens the viewers with the truth of the horrific night when the deed was done. The props were minimal but perfect. The use of lanterns and open flames was particularly effective in lighting up no more than Stephen’s face helped keep the mysterious atmosphere strong.

To captivate an audience with a 20-minute monologue is hard in the theatre. It is arguably harder to do so from your own house and when the audience has all their home distractions around them, but captivate he did. Our eyes were glued to his, hanging on his every word. He knows his craft well and was able to use silence to really build suspense, which must have been tricky in these circumstances. We were desperate to see how the story developed and really did not want it to end.

The Tell-Tale Heart is being performed live only once more, on Sunday 10th May at 10pm and I would urge you not to miss it. It is free to watch but do please donate. A recording is available on the company’s Facebook page from where the performance can be accessed. Theatre companies need your love, but also your money, to be able to keep going during the lockdown. Supporting the arts is so important to help bring UK Theatre back from the brink of disaster. Other producers and theatre companies should take note though – this is how you create theatre when the theatres are shut. Keep safe and sleep well, unless the story haunts you through the night.

Reviews by Christopher James

@sohoplace / Soho Place

Brokeback Mountain

Duke of Yorks Theatre

Shirley Valentine

Harold Pinter Theatre



Only An Octave Apart

57-60 Haymarket


Queen Elizabeth Hall

Briefs: Bite Club


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The Blurb

Making the most of the lock-down Stephen Smith of Threedumb Theatre will be performing an unabridged, one-man performance of Edgar Allan Poe's classic horror story, The Tell-Tale Heart.  Published in 1843, this macabre short story follows an unnamed narrator who insists on his sanity whilst describing the gruesome details of the crime he has committed.

With the help of his brother on camera and his girlfriend on sound/lighting, he’ll be live streaming on the company’s Facebook page from his living room. Renowned for his 5* Dog/Actor double bill this promises to an enthralling and chillingly expressive interpretation of the work heightened by his hallmark physicality.

Not surprisingly Stephen confesses, “I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’ve enough time to learn all the lines and have the resources to make this the most professional, top quality live stream that I can afford. Tune in... if you dare!”

Don’t miss this event which must be a world premiere in so many ways!

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