REVIEW: THE EXORCIST (Phoenix Theatre) ★★

As a massive horror fan, a live stage play of one of the most iconic horror films ever made, The Exorcist, was a very exciting prospect to have coming to the West End. Sadly, I left the theatre largely underwhelmed.

When multiple medical professionals fail to provide answers to young Regan’s strange symptoms, her desperate mother Chris turns to a local priest for help. But, before Father Damien can tackle what’s before him, he must overcome his own shaken beliefs, as this fight is for more than just one girl’s soul…

The show starts off with promise. Flickering lights and electrical explosions plunge the audience in to complete darkness for an uncomfortable amount of time before we hear the familiar voice of Ian McKellen as the voice of the devil (which works very well).

Clare Louise Connolly does a good job in the lead role of Regan, the girl possessed by the Devil. Jenny Seagrove plays mother Chris well opposite Peter Bowles as Father Lankester Merrin, and hollywood heart throb Adam Garcia plays Father Damien Karras. The acting isn’t at fault here but the script and staging just didn’t grab me and it was all rather dull.

There are three iconic moments in The Exorcist for me. The famous head spin, the projectile vomiting and a line about what someone’s mother might be getting up to in hell. The special effects in this production were lazy, unimaginative and verging on funny at how badly they were executed. It was more like a comedy spoof of The Exorcist at times rather than a serious production. And as for that famous line I mentioned from the film – it’s not even in the play!

At one hour forty minutes with no interval, the show is too long. I understand with shows like this not wanting to break the tension of the piece but after an hour or so people start getting restless and start getting up and down to go to the toilet which breaks concentration from the piece anyway.

I’m glad I got to see The Exorcist live on stage, it was certainly an experience I will never forget. But mostly for the wrong reasons.

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Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Robert Day