Poltergeist by Philip Ridley.

The powerful writing is matched by Joseph Potter’s outstanding performance as the unfulfilled prodigy artist Sasha in Poltergeist. Offering a challenging and exhausting role for Potter who delivers the dialogue with precision and an abundance of energy. Ranging between strong outbursts of rage, and screaming to lucid clarity. All of these are driven by a deep-rooted sense of loss.

Sasha had his hopes and dreams of becoming a successful artist through his acts stemming from the grief of losing his Mum while staying in a farm outhouse on the grounds of his sister in laws parents’ property. After completing the commissioned artwork he sets fire to it in a fit of rage and grief.

Popping copious amounts of co-codamol and a deep. sense of self-loathing has spread into every essence of his life. It doesn’t matter how much he consumes the pain remains ever-present.

The catalyst for today’s episode of self-loathing has been created after being invited to his oldest niece’s birthday party. The lack of interest in anything to do with them is compensated by his partner Che, whose relationship with the family helps keep the contact intact.

Poltergeist normally refers to paranormal activity or spirits. However, Sasha becomes possessed while he is in his brother’s house becoming a living and breathing Poltergeist. Moving photos, emptying the bathroom cabinet and leaving nail scissors abandoned at the top of the stairs.

The exceptional one-man performance brings a host of family and friends to life throughout the play. Each of the partygoers is distinguished through mannerisms and accents. From his pregnant sister-in-law Niamh who gushes with over-the-top necessities which grated on me and becomes sickly at times. Alongside his brother Flynn who is desperately trying to make sure everything runs smoothly. Is it driven by guilt or simply playing the good host it’s left for the audience to decide as we never know her or any of the other family members’ side of the story?

Watching the deep concentration and beguiling physical performance by Potter, You can feel the power as he is overcome and completely possessed by the Poltergeist spirit of his character, Sasha. I defy anyone to leave the Theatre, without feeling mentally exhausted.

Potter’s performance leaves me in no doubt that we are going to see a lot more of him in the future. These “gem” productions and performances are what keep the Off West End Theatres alive and drawing in the audiences.

For more information on this play and future productions at the Arcola Theatre please use the links below.

Five Stars.



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