REVIEW: STALKING THE BOGEYMAN (Southwark Playhouse) ★★★★
This play tells the true story of a man searching for his rapist. Based on an article that journalist David Holthouse published and later adapted for radio programme, This American Life in 2004, the play does not only address the trauma the young victim experienced after he was raped by a family friend but also the intense shame he felt and the fear of becoming abusive himself.
The play begins with David Holthouse (Gerard McCarthy) plotting his revenge. He is determined to kill a man, confident that he could get away with the murder because victim and killer could not be linked after such a long time. When David was 7, his parents (Glynis Barber and Geoffrey Towers), newly relocated to Anchorage, Alaska, are befriended by another couple, the Crawfords (Amy van Norstrand and John Moraitis), and it is their son (Mike Evans), a 17-year-old quarterback, who attacks him.
David looks up to the Crawford boy, regarding him the older brother he never had. When they play together in the basement while their parents play cards upstairs, their playing turns rough and David is suddenly attacked by the older boy and not just touched or fondled, he is violently raped.
For David, the Bogeyman has become real and he suffers from intense trauma but the shame is too great, he never tells his parents about it. As a grownup he takes drugs to keep his sanity and the drug dealer (Amy van Norstrand), who had been serial raped by her paedophilic stepfather, is his only confidante. When his attacker moves into David’s neighbourhood, he decides to kill him, not just to have his revenge but to make sure he will never rape another child.
Before he can execute his plan, David’s parents arrive. They have found his diary and learnt the truth. His mother makes a phone call to the Crawfords which is one of the most chilling and harrowing scenes of the production. The intensity of this moment is only topped by David’s showdown with his rapist.
This is an intense and heartbreaking production, sensitively directed by Markus Potter, and performed by an outstanding cast, especially Gerard McCarthy as David and Mike Evans as the Bogeyman.
Reviewed by Carolin Kopplin
Photo: David Scheinmann
Stalking the Bogeyman is playing at Southwark Playhouse until 6 August 2016