Stalking the Bogeyman**** (Southwark Playhouse)

Posted: July 25, 2016 in Theatre

stalking the bogeymanWhen the unmentionable problem starts being talked about, perhaps we have set out on the road towards resolving it. In the spirit of this year’s Oscar-winning film, Spotlight, David Holthouse, along with co-writer Markus Potter, here tells his own story of child abuse and its aftermath in a play that is brutally honest and, at times, little short of devastating.

Gerard McCarthy is outstanding as the adult David, a journalist  incapable of dealing with his past and resorting to drug abuse. His dealer, Molly (Amy von Nostrand) herself an abused child, is the only person to whom he can offload his troubles. When coincidence brings him back into proximity with his attacker, the “bogeyman” (Mike Evans), he becomes obsessed with vengeance and plotting a murder in which he could not be implicated.

Cutting back to the time of the assault in 1978, the writers show how macho culture influenced events, with 7-year-old David hero worshipping the all American sport hero, 10 years his senior who was to become the bogeyman. However, it feels as if enactment of the assault scene, with McCarthy playing an excitable then simpering David, is a misjudgement. Perhaps such horrors would have been best left for words to describe.

Unable to tell his parents (Geoffrey Towers and Glynis Barber) what had happened for fear that they would think badly of him, David carries the burden alone through adolescence and into adulthood, until the bogeyman reappears. Markus Potter’s simple production on a thrust stage has the feel of a suspense thriller that never loosens its grip.

Performance date: 16 July 2016

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