Poe’s gothic horror tale given modern day twist to reflect isolation of London’s gay scene

Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe - Credit: Archant

Edgar Allen Poe’s classic gothic horror story The Tell Tale Heart has been given a modern day “crystal meth makeover” set to techno music, in a performance drawing parallels with the isolation of the capital’s gay scene.

Jonny Woo in Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart

Jonny Woo in Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart - Credit: Archant

Poe, who went to school in Stoke Newington 200 years ago, is renowned for his tales of mystery and the macabre, and his short story from 1843 is one of the classics which founded the classic horror genre, inspiring the likes of Hitchcock.

Now comedian and drag queen Jonny Woo has taken on the role of his murderous narrator trying to convince the audience of his sanity, as he portrays the paranoid mind of a contemporary meth addict in the basement of his pub, The Glory in Kingsland Road, Haggerston.

Director Giorgio Spiegelfeld explained: “Poe is the master of gothic horror, and this is one of his most famous stories in the genre.

“He created the symbols like a creeping door or a ticking in the walls, wind or water drops, doors grating or footsteps approaching or flickering lights.”

Giorgio Spiegelfeld

Giorgio Spiegelfeld - Credit: Archant

Poe’s story is given a contemporaneous twist to portray the horror and suspense of “the isolation of a crowded social life and the paranoia amassed from anonymous sex and surveillance”.

Spiegelfeld said: “The aim is to take a classical text, then we put it into this case the basement of The Glory, and then the attempt is to link it into the audience that frequents the venue, so The Glory is a gay night club venue, it’s where people go to get drunk, it is commonly known how problematic drug usage is within the gay community, so this is something we wanted to talk about.

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“It’s more about the aftermath of years of drug use, after someone has spent years of chemsex, like the paranoia that’s caused through drug use and the isolation when you connect on such a deep level with people you don’t even know, the anonymity and isolation that comes from that.”

He continued: “Jonny talked about his personal experience in our research and I’m sure that helped him a lot.

“I’m still intrigued by his performance, he has this incredible presence that he can fill the whole space but in the next moment he disappears.

“It’s an hour of Jonny giving everything, its exciting to watch him.”

Tell Tale Heart runs from Monday to Friday at 8pm until Friday February 5, tickets cost £18. See www.theglory.co/the-tell-tale-heart.