Review: THE TELL-TALE HEART at Synetic Theater

The production runs from September 29th through November 5th.

By: Oct. 01, 2023
Review: THE TELL-TALE HEART at Synetic Theater

Edgar Allan Poe’s stories have captured people’s imaginations with their spooky and unsettling imagery, and The Tell-Tale Heart is one of the stories. In this tale, Edgar is driven into madness  by an Old Man’s “vulture-like” blue eye. His insanity eventually leads him to murder. Synetic Theater, known for its silent interpretations of Shakespeare, takes on this iconic story by America's beloved horror writer with its signature approach of stunning visuals and choreography. 

Both Mills, who plays Edgar, and Kavsadze, who is the Old Man, carry the emotional weight of this production. Kavsadze’s movements and mannerisms embody the toil dementia takes on a person. Through the character of Edgar, Mills demonstrates the emotional impact of caretaking, with every frustrated glance and gesture of affection.Without a doubt, Mills and Kavsadze fit well into their roles, and create interrelationship tension, which an Edgar Allan Poe story deserves. 

Beyond Edgar and the Old Man, there is a group of mischievous vultures (Kaitlyn Shifflett, Tony Amante, Josh Lucas, Zana Gankhuyang, and Vato Tsikurishvili). They follow Edgar in desperation, as they want him to go through with the murder of the Old Man. From the way they walk to how they tease Edgar, everything about the vultures is extremely Poe. The vultures aren’t the main characters, but they manage to steal the show with each flap and flick of their feathers. 

Review: THE TELL-TALE HEART at Synetic Theater
Alex Mills as Edgar in Synetic's production of The Tell-Tale Heart. Photo Credit: Jorge Amaya

There are a few moments within the production that lean more towards quirky surrealism, or almost comedic horror, than true Poe gore, such as a scene in which Edgar dreams of a carnival overtaken by vultures participating in typical fair activities. Synetic goes for red ribbons  rather than bloody effects, which is understandable in a dance production context, but Poe fans may be left with wanting a bit more gore. 

Synetic’s The Tell-Tale Heart production team brings Poe’s horrific tale to life with its scenic design by Daniel Pinha. In an almost fun house fashion, towers of boxes store curios and trinkets. The set moves and pivots to create a harrowing space which is constantly in movement (and full of surprises). The vultures’ costumes are beautifully constructed with spine-chilling details, including glowing eyes, and protruding beaks reminiscent of plague masks. The choreography by Irina Tsikurishvili compliments the dreary mood.

If you are looking for a spooky production to watch during the month of October, you don’t want to miss out on The Tell-Tale Heart, directed by Paata Tsikurishvili. 

Running Time: 90 minutes with a short intermission 

Top Photo Caption & Credit: Irakli Kavsadze as the Old Man, Alex Mills as Edgar, with the Synetic Ensemble Photo by Jorge Amaya

The Tell-Tale Heart runs from September 29, 2023 until November 5, 2023 at Synetic Theater in Arlington, VA. 

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