Lockdown review: The Poltergeist

Southwark Playhouse have been offering online performances since the spring, and have recently moved into livestreams performed from their closed stages. Philip Ridley’s The Poltergeist ticks all the boxes for a fine digital experience, but be quick if you want to see it: there are only two more chances at 3pm and 7.30pm today.

Joseph Potter, who made his professional stage debut just last year, leads this play in a monologue full of emotion and movement. In his Sasha, a child art prodigy now full of tension headaches and repressed regrets, we meet a fully-rounded character damaged by the actions of others, unable to relate to the simplest of small-talk.

Although no-one else is on the stage, the skill of Potter as performer and Wiebke Green as director ensures that the other characters – in one scene as many as eight – are clearly defined with their own mannerisms, vocal cadences, and natural irritations.

Joseph Potter in The Poltergeist

There is plenty of humour in both Ridley’s script and the way it is translated to the stage, even though The Poltergeist ultimately has tragic undertones. Little moments matter: an arm round the waist, the child not waving back, the family photo, the illicit pill-popping.

Not one word or action is wasted. In a compelling and deeply physical performance, we become privy to Sasha’s inner thoughts, his past, his relationship with boyfriend Chet, and frustration at the circumstances of his fleeting fame. He is a complex figure. We sometimes recoil from him, sometimes empathise with his situation.

If you have ever seen the potential of a child, overcome a family tragedy, been bored by parties, or forged your own creative path, The Poltergeist will ring true. A tour de force performance (mark Potter as one to watch) in a brilliant monologue on an empty stage, you will not want to miss this 70-minute piece.

The Poltergeist streams again on 21 November at 3pm (captioned) and 7.30pm. Book for £15 at https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/show/the-poltergeist/#cast-creative.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review The Poltergeist.

Image credit: Martin Photography.

6 thoughts on “Lockdown review: The Poltergeist

  1. Wasn’t it sensational? Having trouble getting my own thoughts focused enough to review it as I want to do it justice. They simply have to get this out to a wider audience somehow

      1. Did you catch the same actor in the Beast Will Rise series? He was very good in that too. Shouldn’t wonder if he doesn’t become a major performer in a year or two

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