The Exorcist (Phoenix Theatre)
Fearter rating: 7.5/10
A start I'll never forget and a voice over I wish never happened.
Review (no spoilers)
The Exorcist movie is my scariest film ever, just thinking about it makes me uneasy and the images from the film often pop up in my mind's eye. So I admit that I wasn't exactly relaxed going into the theatre - but at the same time I wasn't overly anxious, as I was looking forward to seeing this play. It's apparently based on the story which inspired the film (in reality it's very much like the film).
I can't say anything about the beginning because I don't want to ruin it, but it's very, good and... nope I won't say anymore than that - you'll just have to go see it.
The staging and lighting are amazing, parts of the stage are lit up to indicate the different rooms of the house and some of the effects for the demon. It all works together so brilliantly and seamlessly that they're by far the best aspects of this play. The pace and story telling of the play was also good, and I was entertained throughout it. There are enough jump scares to justify the horror genre however the psychological horror which the film did expertly is missing. One of the main reasons for that, is the voice over.
The voice of the demon/devil is done by Sir Ian McKellen. I'm not saying anything negative about the acting of his voice recording, which was perfectly fine - but more the choice of person. Sir Ian McKellen's voice is not scary, unnerving, jarring - it is warm, encouraging and friendly. So when Regan begins speaking in the voice of the demon, it just seems odd. It's too clear that she's lip-syncing (which she does very well incidentally) - you just think it's Ian McKellen, not a demon. In my opinion, it needed to be an unknown voice. A voice with threat, danger and menace behind it. Unfortunately this problem with the voice has such an impact on the play, that it's hard to get passed it.
The acting ranged from good (Regan) to dubious (a couple of the cast). And there was one very strange scene involving a bishop which looked like it came straight from Father Ted. A good attempt at the effects was made (head spinning etc), which must be very hard to replicate from screen to stage.
Altogether this is a bit of a weird one. There's one amazing bit (the start), some good bits, some bad bits and a voice over which (unfortunately) saps all the menace and psychological horror out of the play. If you're a fan of the film it is worth going to see, but just bear in mind that it is no way near as good as the movie - but it is entertaining. I'd also recommend getting discount tickets somehow too e.g. 2-4-1 offers, as it's probably not worth a full price ticket.
Tickets can be bought via the website: https://www.phoenixtheatrelondon.co.uk/the-exorcist/