Avenge the Tell-Tale Heart

‘Avenge the Tell-Tale Heart’ is a radio drama with foley, devised by Ben Albert and loosely based on the 1843 short horror story by Edgar Allan Poe. It was hosted by Phoenix Theatre Inc and The Duke of George for Fringe World 2020.

Foley being background sound effects created live by ‘technicians’, Ben Albert and Krispin Maesalu.

At the corner of Duke Street and George Street is 135 George Street, East Fremantle and The Duke of George. The ‘Duke’ is beautiful venue, built a couple of years ago in the old traditional style of dark walls and lots of jarrah. This smart building was for 100 years WA’s major brush company, then in 1970 it became one of Perth’s best antique businesses. When the antiques moved out, the top floor was removed and replaced with modern apartments.

This very pleasant jazz and blues venue has an elevated 20 sq. metre stage and a good lighting rig.

This well scripted 45-minute play to celebrate World Radio Day (Thursday, 13th February) in style, was sadly for one night only, however, there were two performances one at 7.00 and again at 8.30 pm.

The scene: Various venues around the world in the late 1940’s.

The set: The pit musicians are seated around the stage perimeter with the actors and sound creators centre stage.

A large table containing the strange contraptions to produce the sounds is front of stage.

The talented Blues musicians played softly throughout the play, with the occasional dramatic crescendo or a few bars appropriate to the detective’s exotic location. ‘The Tell-Tale Band’ featured Aidan Bridges on Keyboard, Chris  ‘Guitar Face’  Johnston on Guitar, Krispin Maesalu on Reeds, Meg Vicensoni on Double Bass and Jake Isard on Drums. A well-balanced group in an acoustically fine venue joined to present Meg Vicensoni’s original music and the band’s smooth sound, perfectly.

It is the 1940’s and E.A.P Private Detective (James Baker), with the same velvet voice as ace detective of the day, Philip Marlowe, is investigating the trail of a stolen ruby; one of the world’s most valuable – the Tell-Tale Heart. The ruby went missing after the mysterious death of a wealthy businessman, Rufus Griswold (Jarvys McQueen).

Along with his Girl Friday (Clea Purkis) our hero travels the world by planes, trains and elevators. Up rainy New York sidewalks and down the dusty alleys of the Wild West. Who will solve the case? FBI’s Inspector William Wilson (Krispin Maesalu) or our Private Dick?

This fun show was based on a great, but sadly little used idea. Had time been available, I would have enjoyed 15 minutes of ‘loose’ intro music, then the dramatic play, followed by another 15 minutes of ‘wind-down’ at the end. However, with two shows so close together this was not possible.

The musical balance was thanks to the sound design by venue tech Ric de Oliveira and further invaluable assistance from Simone Ostle.

The actors played several characters each and kept the audience entertained.

The Foley artists – Ben Albert and Krispin Maesalu – showed tremendous inventive skills and flourish in producing the sound effects. For the audience, it was good test to close your eyes and enjoy being ‘there’. Whilst watching the sound technicians it became obvious that several sounds that were being produced perfectly, were not being picked up by the microphones. Were the microphones too far away? Too insensitive with the sponge breath-sock in place? Wrong design?

Stephen B. Platt is a delightful chap and would willingly give you further presentation skills advice, as whilst doing his Masters at Murdoch he presented about a dozen 1-hour, ‘Journey into Space’ radio plays with extremely complex foleys.  

This was most pleasant evening in a delightful location. Great music, fun and drama. I look forward to the next play.