Friday, December 2

The Poltergeist – Arcola Theatre

Sasha, once a renowned child artist, is now a stationer and haunted by the artist he could never be. The Poltergeist is a play about art, family and memory.

In many ways, the experience of this play felt like a good rock concert. Just as one feels the drops and hits of the distortion of an electric guitar, one is hit by the movement, switch and the strong performance by Joseph Potter who seems to be playing an overwhelming number of roles (instruments) in the play. The heavy movements of the performance resemble the sensibilities of ritual theatre made by the ingredients of the alienation of modern subjects and the rage of a failed artist.

“3…2…1…” Sasha expects a response from his partner, and we wait. The performer’s intensity and the rhythm of narrating the story are central to telling Philip Ridley’s ‘The Poltergeist’. Making this 75-minute monologue requires precise and clear answers to the role of time and body in performance. The director, Wiebke Green has answered by developing dynamic body structures for the different characters of Sasha’s family. By using stereotypes in the body language, and performance, the audience seems to find humour and relief in an otherwise challenging, often self-loathing narration of Sasha. The production must also be complimented for not using any light, sound, music or stage design. It was a brave and appropriate decision for its subject matter and worked really well. However, the experience lacked a similar rigour in addressing the issue of time in performance. It was felt that rhythm and pace could have been altered, sometimes even inverted in relation to intensity. Maybe the performance could become more electrifying through its silences…

Any art experience is realised in its full potential when it is felt that the only people who could have crafted this experience were the artist who made the experience possible. Joseph Potter is at home in Sasha’s character and is always one step ahead of the audience. ‘The Poltergeist’ is playing at the Arcola Theatre till 28th October 2022.

Reviewer: Akshay Raheja

Reviewed: 17th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★