The Exorcist - Archieved Post

October 31, 2016 - 7:51 pm No Comments

The Exorcist
Birmingham Rep
Halloween 2016
Reviewed by: Theresa Derwin
It’s Halloween month; October, the month we celebrate all things scary, so I booked tickets to see a showing of The Exorcist in stage at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Thu 27th Oct 2016.
I hadn’t looked at the cast, and was only interested in seeing a modern interpretation of the novel by William Peter Blatty and the film (starring Max Von Sydow and Linda Blair) at the theatre. So, on a surpringly mild Oct afternoon, I set off with my friend Jason to watch The Exorcist.
And what a surprise it was!
Some of you are bound to know the gist of the story; Father Merrin in the Middle East fights a battle to exorcise a demon.
Back in the USA, actress Chris is concerned about the behaviour of her ten year old daughter Regan, who is talking to ‘imaginary friend’ Captain Howdy, swearing, stealing and urinating.
Is it a case of a bad child with a psychiatric issue, or is it possession!?
Father Damien Karras (Adam Garcia in the stage production) has lost his faith and takes a lot to be convinced about Regan’s ‘condition’, and has to decide whether to approach the Church for consideration of an exorcism.
Now, I’m going to start with an overheard conversation;
“I don’t think much of the mother, she was a bit hysterical.”
Hello! Swearing, urinating, crucifix stealing child who can speak in other tongues including Latin. The mother, Chris (incidentally played by Jenny Seagrove), is distraught, scared, embarrassed and frightened to death her child is going to die. Apart from that, it was excellently played.
Next; “It’s just shock tactics, there’s no real drama or dialogue.”
Excuse me!
This adaptation, which differs from the film somewhat, demonstrates effective use of tension, modern updates to fit the 21st Century and exploration of many themes including loss, faith, belief, family, beauracracy, love and fear. The dialogue was smack on and the delivery was perfect.
The whole cast was exemplary to be honest, with stand out performances by Clare Louise as Regan, playing at least half her age and miming with skill to the demonic voice recorded, which I believe is Ian McKellan. Her use of body language transforming he from ten year old innocent to demonic host was astounding.
Also notable were Peter Bowles as Father Merrin, Adam Garcia as Father Karras, as Burke and Jenny Seagrove as Chris.
The only issue were literally technical. At one point the recording broke down for a couple if minutes, but this was quickly rectified. As for the set and special effects; bloody well done!
Head spinning, switches from location, blood gushing, lighting, the wallpaper in Refan’s bedroom in particular, were beautifully done.
At one point I from that emotional tug at my heartstrings and lump in my throat at Karras’ turmoil and Regan’s deterioration.
A brilliant production I would recommend to those who are not squeamish.

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