Skip to main content

No results found

Duvall Homes web banner
What's On, Culture, Art, Theatre

Review

The Poltergeist

divider
Sam Bennett
Joseph Potter in The Poltergeist image 3 photocredit Martin Photography

22 November 2020

A couple of days before The Poltergeist, I interviewed film composer Sacha Puttnam, who raved about theatre’s ability to nourish the soul. I felt a twinge of guilt for my loss of enthusiasm for theatre this year, my lack of support for its virtual offerings. However, his energy was infectious, and so I sat down at my computer screen last night for the world premiere of Philip Ridley’s play – from theatre company, Tramp – really hoping my passion would be rekindled. And I wasn’t disappointed.

A one-person show, The Poltergeist is about Sacha, who now works in a stationer’s and frequently pops co-codamol, having once been a highly promising teen artist. With partner Chet, he attends his young niece’s birthday party where – when left alone – he disrupts things; breaking a dolphin ornament, flushing aftershave down the lavatory, and laying framed photographs face down on their surfaces. He makes polite small talk with the hosts and other guests, all the while revealing to the audience what he actually thinks of them and the whole occasion, as we glimpse into a family past littered with sadness.

In a shirt reminiscent of Stuart from Queer as Folk, Joseph Potter is stunning as the storyteller, granting Sacha an endearing camp laddishness, and distinctly portraying the other characters in his life. Tramp and Southwark Playhouse take advantage of the livestreaming situation, with Potter delivering the lines for the audience – Sacha’s thoughts – directly into the camera. Often these aggressive and expletive opinions are incomplete, leaving the audience to fill in the final word (“bitch” or “c*nt”, perhaps) thus denoting the idea that we’re all like the protagonist to some extent.

Potter conveys Sacha’s breakdown superbly. In a space where there is nowhere for the actor to hide, he supplies the necessary noises, shakes, dribbles and tears, but remains completely in control as a performer. He’s spot on with the funnier parts of Ridley’s script too, brilliantly executing lines such as “the grass is fake, looks it too – I wonder if it’s flammable.”

As the one-acter draws to a close, Sacha tells us why he loves Chet. “He’s always such an optimist,” he remarks. Fitting, for I left my living room with genuine optimism for theatre again. In that alone, Ridley and Tramp’s fast-paced and moving production, has done something truly remarkable.

Photo credit: Martin Photography

RECOMMENDED

Alan Turing main image
Mon 26 Apr 2021

The ‘Fashionable’ Alan Turing

Reflections of Alan Turing: A Relative Story

Sir Dermot Turing talks about his uncle’s suicide and problematic royal pardon, 60 years after his conviction for ‘gross indecency’.

Michael Ball 3
Tue 13 Apr 2021

From stage star to songwriter... Prior to releasing the album, We Are More Than One, Michael Ball talks about his "first proper" foray into songwriting.

Screenshot 2021 03 31 at 15.48.23 twcby1
Wed 31 Mar 2021

There's just one week to go until we kick off our Easter Put on a Play in a Week workshops, so if you haven't booked yet, what are you waiting for?

Felicia Skene kylthk
Wed 24 Mar 2021

From matriculation to marmalade, this Women’s History Month we’re taking a look back and spotlighting the women of Oxfordshire who have helped shape the place we live today.