The Peacock Theatre on Charing Cross Road is the perfect venue for the dark nights drawing in. Tucked away and intimate, it is hosting the devilishly good The Exorcist, fresh from a run at the Birmingham Rep. It has quite the cast too, the Demon being voiced by Sir Ian McKellen, Adam Garcia and Peter Bowles in the roles of the Fathers, Jenny Seagrove as the mother and, of course, Claire Louise Connelly as Regan.
Regan MacNeil is a 12-year-old who, after playing around with a Ouija board, is possessed by the devil. Her anxious parents have contacted the local clergy to bring light to a very dark place and it is here where we pick up the core of the story. The play begins with an abrupt bang, and the stage is plunged into darkness. This did add to the already heightened atmosphere and I have to admit that I jumped out of my skin. Most people already know the head-spinning scene; I had prepared myself for that. I hadn’t readied myself for the vomit that coated the front row – very cleverly put together and an unexpected touch. Make no mistake, this adaptation is well thought out and as true to the original as possible. The levitation scene is one to enjoy, chilling (and yes this is a frightening show) as it is to watch alongside the madly shaking bed, it just enthralled me more and more.
The cast meld well together. Peter Bowles was as charmingly eccentric as Adam Garcia was sombre in his role. Ian McKellan has such a deep and earthy tone to his voice that you find yourself warming to him. The underlying story of The Exorcist is not the thrills and spills of a ghost ride that turns your tummy upside down for a short moment of time, but a dark piece that will resonate long after you have left the theatre. To recreate that eerie, scary play on the senses is a creative mission that cohesively the entire cast and creative have managed without a doubt.
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