Tell-Tale Heart


Tell-Tale Heart
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A series of apparitions haunts a disturbed man who must answer to police about the disappearance of his uncle.

Schools: This play is school friendly, but is considered PG-13. Some material may be objectionable or sensitive for certain school districts.


Edward sits alone and transfixed in thought when a loud knocking is heard, breaking his reverie. The police have come to investigate a reported scream in the night. Edward welcomes the officers into the home of his Uncle Stephen, claiming that he screamed due to a nightmare and a neighbor reported the disturbance as she is a light sleeper. He tells them that his uncle is away and left him behind to tend to his business. As Edward charms the officers during the inquiry, apparitions appear, and time begins to alter in front of Edward’s eyes.

In a simultaneous altered reality, Edward relives the previous night with his Uncle Stephen, who welcomed him into his home after Edward’s family was brutally murdered during an apparent burglary attempt. Stephen has a deformed eye and an acute fear of his home being robbed, especially after what happened to Edward’s family. He asks Edward to secure the house and continues to offer his condolences for the loss of Edward’s wife and parents. Edward begins to obsess over his uncle’s eye and becomes convinced that it allows Stephen to see “what others do not.”

Back with the officers, Edward continues to answer their questions as realities and memories entwine, and apparitions of his dead family members move throughout the space, staring at him with accusatory eyes, implying Edward’s complicity in their deaths.

The cycling of memories, apparitions, and questions tax Edward’s exhausted mind. He manages to hold himself together until a heartbeat becomes audible in both realities. Eventually driven to sheer madness by the beating heart, Edward breaks down and desperately asks the confused officers if they hear it too. With the deafening heartbeat in his ears, Edward confesses to murdering his Uncle and burying him beneath the floor boards of the house.



Edward – Male, 20s–30s. A confused and disturbed man who can turn on the charm when needed.

Stephen – Male, 50s & older. A kindly old man with a deformed eye.

Officer Dupin – Male, 30s–50s. Senior officer who does everything by the book.

Officer Auguste – Male, 30s–40s. Junior officer, naturally suspicious.

Virginia – Female, 20s. The ghost of Edward’s young wife; silent role.

Emma – Female, 40s–50s. The ghost of Edward’s mother; silent role.

Johann – Male, 40s–50s. The ghost of Edward’s father; silent role.

Setting: Boston, Massachusetts. Early 20th century. The home of a wealthy merchant at various points in time as seen through Edward’s eyes.

Note: This play should be performed without a break or pause in the action. The movement should remain continuous during the shifts from one reality to another.

Performance Royalties are based on theater particulars. Please fill out an application for a personalized quote.

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.

Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.

The required materials for The Tell-Tale Heart include:

Production Scripts

Available Products:

Wicked Lit Print Edition – The beautifully designed anthology, available at wholesale costs to sell in your lobby!

Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.

Logo/PR Pack – Includes high-resolution artwork and reference photos. Also, ready-designed posters, reviews and pull quotes, if available.