The Exorcism

Date 9th January 2020
Society Wick Theatre Company
Venue The Barn Theatre, Southwick
Type of Production Play
Director Susanne Crosby

Report

Author: Mark Hall

The Exorcism from TV’s “The Dead of Night”, written by Don Taylor, translates brilliantly from the small screen to the stage. For me. It was an unknown piece and, after some research beforehand, a bold proposition in my opinion but one that director Susanne Crosby achieves brilliantly. The plot is summarised as follows: a couple stumble upon an abandoned cottage in the countryside whilst out walking. Deciding it would be an idyllic second home. They purchase it and renovate to a high standard.  We join the couple on Christmas Day where they are entertaining another couple. A series of strange and unexplainable events lead to conflict, tension, denial and acceptance, culminating in a poignant, yet stirringly relevant, finale. 

The direction is natural and the pace excellent. An exceptionally wordy script, especially for a cast of 4 to comprehend is superbly delivered with no obvious dropped lines or stumbling. Credit to both the cast and director for an extremely well rehearsed performance. 

A beautiful set, encompassed the stage allowing us to feel like we were there in their cottage living room with them. The well dressed set, complete with a roast turkey and Christmas dinner, was credit to Di Tidzer and Doffey Reid. 

For a play to be able to grip you, the atmosphere needs to be right and Martin Oakley does a hauntingly good job with the lighting design. Subtle changes in the lighting are cleverly used to increase the tension. The sound effects were convincing and the whole production brought off a terribly eerie aura which complemented the script perfectly. 

Sam Razavi, as Edmund, was excellent with a whole spectrum of emotions and complemented his onstage wife, Rachel, played by Anna Quick. Her transition from well spoken hostess to the portrayal of the exorcism was remarkable and spellbinding.

A production such as this, with limited effects, budgets and technology, relies heavily on the ability of the actors and boy did they deliver. All four held the audience captive with actions, reactions and expressions signifying the feelings of their characters at that moment. 

John Garland gave an accomplished performance as Dan with unwavering optimism on all the peculiarities surrounding him and Emily Dennett portrayed Margaret with an assured confidence and logic. The perfect foil to Dan’s occasional eccentricity. 

The subplots of the script are still as relevant today as they were at the time of writing and allow for a moment of reflection of the divisiveness of society. Theatre should always leave you thinking. And this piece certainly did that. Unexpected twists, turns and a surprise ending meant this truly was a remarkable production and plaudits are well deserved to all involved.