A collaborative venture by internationally established Australian opera and legit director Barrie Kosky and gifted Austrian actor-singer Martin Niedermair, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is playing to sell-out auds in an exclusive Melbourne Intl. Arts Festival season of a production based on the Austrian Schauspielhaus original. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s tale of a murderer haunted by the still-living memory of his buried victim, the action unfolds as a moodily lit monologue lasting just under an hour yet achieving greater impact than many full-length plays.
Overall intensity of effect is generated by the fusion of pyrotechnically versatile performer, starkly elegant stage-space (a single wooden staircase-to-infinity), always surprising lighting design, and Kosky to one side on piano, superbly playing a boldly eclectic score.
Delivering the clinically compelling text, Neidermair bodily and vocally conveys the heightened psycho-sensibility of madness — contorting, convulsing, screaming the roof off, frothing at the mouth, and even head-twirling, “Exorcist”-style.
Speaking much of the confessional dialogue with sparely punctuated modulation, the actor also bursts into moving song, chanting for who-knows-what kind of forgiveness and absolution.
Niedermair gives a stunning tour-de-force performance in an unforgettable journey into the dark side of a scarily human soul. Well worthy of wider exposure, the whole emotively pitched voyage is conceived and staged with beauty and sensitivity.