The most cartilage chilling picture ever conjured is coming to a theatre near you. As in an actual theatre, with actors and actresses and real time things occurring. But how does a company move The Exorcist from the big screen to the stage? With the help of an Olivier award-winning set designer, Tony nominated director, and a magician. That's right, a magician.
SEAN MATHIAS, THE DIRECTOR
Best known for directing works by Pinter, Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and virtually anything with Sir Ian McKellen in it, Mathias' work spans London, New York, Cape Town, Sydney, L.A. and now Birmingham's Rep, where The Exorcist will premiere. That's right, the first showing of this take on the box office behemoth, anywhere in the world, is here. A director of huge pedigree but by no means a popularist, Mathias is an inspired choice for bringing authenticity to what could be an off-puttingly sensationalist production in the wrong hands. And in terms of worrying about some of Hollywood's best known moments of cinema, Mathias has got an entire team.
BEN HART, THE MAGIC DESIGNER
"I've spent all morning thinking about vomit" aren't the precise words we were expecting to hear from the magic man himself. But then the concept of Hart's primary trade — magic, or special FX, there we've said it — is in contrast to the very nature of the imaginarium which is a theatre. "I always think that mystery is more powerful than knowledge when it comes to telling a story" explains Hart. Though he also seems to revel in the challenge that there are iconic set pieces he and the team are absolutely going to need to bring to the stage in a completely physical sense. "Of course, a head spinning 360 degrees is a challenge. A big one. But it's all going very well at the moment."
ANNA FLEISCHLE, THE SET DESIGNER
Already working closely with Hart, is Anna Fleischle, a set and costume designer who has operated internationally in theatre, opera and dance, since completing her studies at Central Saint Martins. The inventor of the beautiful — and the arrestingly stark — recently picked up an Olivier award for her work on Hangmen, a production for which she has gained wall-to-wall praise. Quite apart from having to come up with a set that could accommodate a nightly hanging (with no actual risk to life), the level of detail that went into Fleischle's reimagining of a 1960s' Bolton pub is remarkable, including dust round items imagined to be little used. We're strongly recommending Fleischle invests in a fog machine of industrial proportions for this endeavour.
ALSO IN TOWN - SÉANCE
Occurring under The Rep's watch for a similar but ever so slightly different period (from October 18 to 29) is Séance. Taking place in a darkened shipping container on Centenary Square, the fifteen minute spine bender has been described by The Guardian as "creepy", "manipulative" and an experience that "unsettles". It's previously appeared at Latitude Festival (pictured), and is £8 for a spot, with a maximum of 20 people attending each happening. Expect the immersive. And expect to not see us there.
The Exorcist is at The Rep from October 21 to November 5, and open to over 18s only. Tickets start at £10, rising to £37.50. Suitably creepy trailer.
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