THEATRE REVIEW: The Exorcist ★★★

The Exorcist
Birmingham REP Theatre
Wednesday 26th October 2016

Bringing an iconic 1973 horror film like The Exorcist and adapting it for the stage was always going to be a struggle - how do you make an experience as terrifying as the movie then be brought to life on stage - because as well as this production starts, getting our heartbeats racing with an ear shattering noise and having the auditorium plunged into darkness - this production falls flat with the anticlimactic scares and one sided acting from some of the company involved.

Looking at the positives, Claire Louise Connolly really carries this production through with her portrayal of 10 year old Regan, really bringing the child-like characteristics to life on stage, and working incredibly well when syncing up with the Devil’s (Sir Ian McKellen) voiceover when supposedly possessed. The lighting and atmospheric sound in this production is also creative, because at not one point in this performance is the stage fully lit, as only the main section where the action is focused on is actually on show, making the atmosphere very tense, but also the projection used throughout is also very clever, but apart from these, this really is where the positives end in this production.

I don't know what the brief was when producing this production, but having swearing ridiculously throughout for comedy effort mixed in with this horror classic is not what I expected, and left me feeling deeply embarrassed and disappointed in this company, and majoritily let down! Jenny Seagrove portrayed Regan's mother Chris, and was incredibly one dimensional in her performance, only really giving one emotion throughout which really grated, and left me wanting this production to come to an abrupt stop, which luckily this production runs at just shy 2hr 10min, otherwise I would have walked out if it lasted any longer.

The use of a voiceover for the devil was also a very silly, even child like if I can say, atmosphere to this production, and felt cheap. Having surround sound was a clever idea, but really fell flat and become distasteful over time, just like the swearing included in this sequences just as I have spoken above.

Overall, The Exorcist started off promising with initial scares, but fell flat to the floor straight after with no hope in lifting, and leaving Claire Louise Connolly to really carry the rest of the performance!


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