As a frequent theatre goer and a lover of horror, I have been hungering for something spooky to see this season. And finally, that hunger has been satiated by Synetic Theatre’s production of The Tell-Tale Heart.
Synetic Theatre, which for those of you who – like me – may not know, is one of the smaller theaters in the DC area. Synetic is the child of Irina and Paata Tsikurvili, who immigrated to the US from Georgia in 1995. When they came to the States, they couldn’t find a theatre that housed their specific idea of movement. And so, in 2001, Synetic was born. The name comes from the words synthesis, meaning that different parts are coming to form a whole, and kinetic, or the power and energy of movement. Everyone coming together, everyone moving together to create a beautiful whole. Synetic.
The Tell-Tale Heart is the first show of their 2023-2024 season, and what a way to kick it off. The theatre is dressed up subtly to hint at the show, with cobwebs dusting the photos on the wall and covering the tables in the lobby. Walking into the theatre itself, you see the stage. And oh my goodness, what a set they have. Designed by Daniel Pinha, it perfectly creates a sense of unease and claustrophobia. The towering, cluttered shelves do not actually take up that much space, and let themselves move throughout the story, but still it lends itself to creating the perfect environment for Edgar’s (played by Alex Mills) descent to madness.
When the show started, all I could look at were the costumes. While Edgar and Old Man (played by Irakli Kavsade) had an impressive wardrobe that highlighted their roles and relationships to one another, the ensemble of vultures were impossible to keep my eyes off. Without saying too much, because I believe that you should go out and see them for yourself, they were stunning. They brought an added vitality to the already alive performance. The layering of textures and hybrid of looser and tighter fits created these avian silhouettes that had me doubting exactly how human the ensemble truly was. Erik Teague did a phenomenal job with his designs for this show.
For someone who had never been to a Synetic show before, I had very little expectations going in. And yet, those little expectations were far surpassed. I was captivated for the entire show. The first act did a great job building up the suspense that the second act blows up. While I would not go so far as to call it scary, the performance was definitely the spooky, unsettling thing to get me into the October mood. The chemistry between Mills and Kavsade was electric. For the first time ever, I felt a pang of sympathy for this iteration of Old Man. Kavsade brought a softness and sadness to his character that made his death even more tragic.
This show is a must-see. The Tell-Tale Heart will be running through November 5th at Synetic Theatre. You can get your tickets here!
Percy Sampson, New Orleans born and Virginia bred, is finishing up their time at University of Mary Washington, where they are double majoring in English and Theatre. A passionate writer, they spend most of their free time working on (mostly horror) scripts and short stories.
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