The Poltergeist at Southwark Playhouse Online
It was only going to be a matter of time before someone really got this whole streaming theatre thing right. And that’s exactly what Southwark Playhouse has done with The Poltergeist.
Philip Ridley’s new work is a single-hander-performer show starring Joseph Potter as Sasha. Over the course of his young niece’s birthday party, it’s slowly revealed how the protagonist went from famed child prodigy to unknown struggling artist. It’s a play about art, family, memory and being haunted by the life we never lived – and a pretty good one at that.
The audience is inside Sasha’s head as he tells the story, hearing as he imitates the other characters and makes a series of snide and often hilarious comments about them. His boyfriend, his brother, his sister-in-law, his nieces, an annoying parent at the party, his old teacher, his sister-in-law’s parents: there’s an entire cast of personalities in this show, all presented and performed from the principal figure’s point of view.
The superb writing is weighty with bone-crunching tension, but perfectly balanced with dark comedy. Ridley’s intellect and wit are administered in relentless doses through the tremendous pace of the production.
Potter is phenomenal as the troubled creative. The script is dripping with raw emotion, stuffed with various personas whose differentiated accents the lead imitates masterfully and at times, at great speed. It’s easy to forget there’s just one person on stage.
All too often the camera is a barrier in streamed and recorded plays, distancing the audience from the performers, but here it is used to bring them closer together. Careful planning of how each line should be framed has created a genuinely intimate theatrical experience, despite viewers being many miles away and behind TV and computer screens.
The Poltergeist is a piece of brilliance, with greatness oozing out of every pore. The writing, the acting and the staging are all pretty much spot on.
Photo: Martin Photography
The Poltergeist is being live-streamed by Southwark Playhouse from 20th until 21st November 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.