Review Round Up: The Tell- Tale Heart, National Theatre

This new play by Anthony Neilson is based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews of the the production currently playing at the National Theatre. 

The Times: **** “It’s a little crazy and crude, but, despite the occasional relapses into self-reference, Anthony Neilson’s story works.” 

The Telegraph: **** “Yet while there are schlocky gags a plenty, in a rarity for theatre it’s also at times properly scary, with nerve-shredding jolts and bangs and at least one gasp out loud moment that will prompt the squeamish to cover their eyes.” 

The Upcoming: *** ” For while the adaptation will delight those who want their Christmas treats winkingly macabre, pinging back and forth on the schlock-to-scare metre, some people are going to hate it.” 

WhatsOnStage: *** “It’s all skilfully done, funny and frightening by turns. With the help of Nigel Edwards’ atmospheric lighting, the tension ratchets up in the second half, even bathing the auditorium in blood red spotlights.” 

The Stage: *** “Neilson is an alchemist, but here the experiment doesn’t come off. It delivers a good number of jolts, and is certainly never dull, but it feels slightly undercooked.” 

The Guardian: **** “The Tell-Tale Heart feels like a modern-day gothic horror with postmodern bells on.” 

Culture Whisper: **** “Neilson’s The Tell-Tale Heart is an entertaining adaptation that twists this reverberating thriller into a theatrical tour de force.” 

London Box *** “Tamara Lawrance as the writer, Imogen Doel as the landlady and David Carlyle doubling the detective with a surprise additional character are clearly having a lot of fun.” 

Time Out: **** ” In his own twisted way, Neilson has once again shown himself to be our greatest Christmas playwright.” 

A Younger Theatre: “The production is not so much in homage to Poe, nor in conversation with him, but rather picking up the story, kicking it about a bit and then jumping over the edge of a cliff with it. As a lover of Poe myself, I enjoy the anarchy.” 

Evening Standard: *** “A tale worth telling, then, although the ending needs help.” 

British Theatre Guide: “Traditional Christmas shows are supposed to please children, while attempting to keep their adult companions reasonably happy. Nobody would dare to take kids to The Tell-Tale Heart for fear of recurring nightmares (and some of those might affect the adults as much as the children) but for anyone who is allergic to pantos and rehashes of Charles Dickens, this might just be the perfect antidote.”

Broadway World: *** “It also feels muddled structurally, jumping around in time and blurring the lines between scenes. Are we in the real world? In The Writer’s head? Or maybe even in the play she’s struggling to write? This could be a factor of Neilson’s modus operandi of workshopping and constant redrafting in collaboration with his cast, but it still feels like The Tell-Tale Heart could benefit from a bit more sharpening.” 

Theatre Cat: “Overall,  though,  it’s a mildly amusing schlock-horror piece, performed with comic brilliance and – by way of figleaf -a coda of moral seriousness on the subject of remorse.” 

The FT: *** ” If the show doesn’t seem to have any decipherable hinterland, at least the land itself affords an exhilarating hike.” 

The Tell-Tale Heart continues to play at the National Theatre. For more information visit:

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