Avenge the Tell-Tale Heart: Discoveries Through Foley Art
To celebrate World Radio Day, Avenge the Tell-Tale Heart sets out to revive the feeling of old style (pre-television) radio dramas when they were performed and broadcast live, including live music, and with all sound effects done on the spot with physical props such as shoes, a typewriter and a rotary phone rather than using recorded sound clips.
An announcer punctuates the action with ads for Fringe, the excellent venue, and the Phoenix Theatre company.
The play begins with the traditional opening for hardboiled pulp detective stories, as Private Investigator E.A.P. reminisces about the gorgeous dame who walked into his office and hired him to protect her father, the owner of a huge ruby known as the Tell-Tale Heart. Legend has it that nearly all of the ruby’s previous owners were murdered by thieves, who were then murdered by other thieves: Ravencroft, the current owner, is unusual in that he inherited it, but the daughter worries that his live-in assistant and carer, the apparently solicitous young Rupert Griswold, may be planning to steal it from the old man.
A versatile cast – James Baker, Clea Purkis, James McQueen-Mason, clarinetist Krispin Maesalu and playwright and sound effects man Ben Albert – act out multiple roles while The Tell-Tale Band (Meg Vicensoni, Aidan Bridges, Chris Johnson and Jake Isard) plays Vicensoni’s original music behind them.
It’s a light-hearted send-up with some nice twists, and a lot of fun, particularly if you’re sufficiently familiar with the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe to get the in-jokes.
It’s not as astonishing as some of the cabaret or circus acts at this year’s FRINGE WORLD Festival, nor as funny or confronting as some of the stand-up, but it makes for enjoyable dinner theatre, especially if you’re old enough to remember typewriters and rotary phones.
Unfortunately, it only played twice on the night, and may be heard nevermore unless they decide to revive it. Preferably not a la Poe’s M. Valdemar.