The Exorcist – Phoenix Theatre until March 10th
Review By Caroline Hanks-Farmer
Released in 1973 The Exorcist is still thought to be one of the scariest films ever made. So could it ever live up to it’s iconic reputation if produced on stage?
As we take to our seats there is murmuring, voices whispering through speakers around us. The front of house team and others are strategically placed around the auditorium. They keep a watchful eye on the audience. The voices increase, a heartbeat is introduced, the tension builds and suddenly we are plunged into complete darkness and so it begins.
What follows is an hour and forty minutes of psychologically thrilling entertainment, which still has the ability to shock today. The avid “Exorcist” enthusiast who knows every detail of the film may not appreciate this live adaptation. But credit must indeed be given to illusion creator Ben Hart and the cast for creating more of a theatrical event than just another night at the Theatre.
At times during the opening scenes the dialogue was a little too soft to be heard. I would also suggest that you possibly need to be closer to the stage than we were in Row M of the stalls. As my plus one did not catch-all the illusions created, which is a shame as some were really quite something.
The cast are believable and true to their characters. But it is Regan played by Clare Louise Connolly that really is the star of the show. Her “possessed” persona sends chills through you. Tristram Wymark made an endearing Burke. Other noteworthy performances from Jenny Seagrove, Peter Bowles, Todd Boyce and the powerful Adam Garcia.
Not being a huge fan of horror or overly familiar with the film I was unsure how I would react to this production. I’m not going to say I enjoyed it because enjoy is probably the wrong word. However the fact that I was thoroughly engaged throughout means that I fully appreciated its cult status which is bound to continue with this new adaptation. Be warned though it is, quite rightly, age 18+ and definitely not for the faint hearted. For this is truly an atmospheric and very dark evenings entertainment.
The Exorcist is booking to 10 March 2018. Starring Peter Bowles (Father Merrin), Clare Louise Connolly (Regan), Adam Garcia (Father Karras) and Jenny Seagrove (Chris).
A play by John Pielmeier
Adapted from the novel by William Peter Blatty
Directed by Sean Mathias