Sheila Reid, best know for playing the overly tanned Madge in ITV’s Benidorm, has taken to the stage at East London’s Arcola Theatre in the 20th anniversary production of Philip Ridleys Ghost From A Perfect Place.
The play is set in the burnt out kitchen of the appropriately named Torchie Sparks (Sheila Reid). She shares the small place with her prostitute grand daughter Rio, whom she brought up after her daughter died. An unexpected punter of Rio’s, Travis Flood (Michael Feast) arrives, envoking quite a few memories for Torchie of times gone by. When Rio arrives home and Torchie leaves the house, things turn sour. When Travis refuses to pay for sex he is taken hostage by her gang of chavettes and beaten. Travis makes the gang question their loyalties and tries to turn them on each other. But who will win? The ghost of the past or the monsters of the present?
Sheila Reid acts the part of Torchie well and is convincing as the slightly crazy grandmother who let’s her granddaughter sell her body for money to keep them both alive. Michael Feast (Travis) looked the part of ex-gang leader and most feared man, towering over Torchie and staring at her with his black eyes. Sadly his East London accent seemed forced and rather annoying and in the first act he seemed to stumble over his words a fair few times. The star of this show is Florence Hall (Rio Sparks) who plays sweet granddaughter and hard faced gang leader perfectly. Her long monologue in act 2 had me transfixed on the stage with my mouth wide open, fearing for my life that if I didn’t do what she said, I might not make it out of there alive! Her two counterpart gang members Miss Sulphur and Miss Kerosene (played by Scarlet Brookes and Rachel Redford) were perfect side kicks and their witchey looks and ways would could have put a spell on anyone. Interestingly the girls referred to themselves as disciples. Intentionally or not, this made me think about the story of Jesus and his disciples. These days would they have been called a gang? I was fascinated at the thoughts the show provoked in me.
The set design by Anthony Lamble and Costume Supervision by Kat Smith helps to bring this show to life. The burnt out kitchen effect shows the poverty they are in, however they are not dirty people as everything is clean. The gold costumes of the girl gang perfectly demonstrate their unity whilst also showing their youthful vulnerabilities.
Ghost From A Perfect Place is a show about a monster from the past, meeting the monsters of the present and shows how the way we do things changes drastically over the years. I took a while for me to warm up to but by the end I was on the edge of my seat. Well worth popping along to check it out.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Ghost From A Perfect Place is playing at the Arcola Theatre until 11 October 2014. Click here to book tickets.