Tuesday, 23 September 2014

'Ghost from a Perfect Place' Arcola Theatre ****

Gang culture has changed dramatically over the decades, especially within the United Kingdom with female gangs becoming tremendously apparent, and Philip Ridley’s play, ‘Ghost from a Perfect Place’ indicates the modifications between male mobs from the 1960's, to the expansion of female gang culture throughout the 1990's. ‘Ghost from a Perfect Place’, written in 1994 introduces us to senior-citizen, Torchie Sparks, who's been nurturing her granddaughter, Rio since her daughter died in her teens. On one morning, she is impolitely interrupted by someone from my past, former gang leader, Travis Flood,  a somewhat suave and sophisticated person who adores silk tailored suits, and is known for is humongous personality. The two reminisce about their greatest moments; such as when Travis used to covertly sneak into the cinema where Torchie and a husband used to work. Unfortunately, such memoirs prove too much for Travis as it reminds him of the unrefined and brutal person he once was. His dastardly activities included burying his victims within the drying concrete of the Bow flyover over when it was in construction. The character Travis Flood is a reminder of the notorious Kray Brothers who tormented their targets in any situation imaginable; this inevitably commences the dark nature of the production itself. Over the course of the evening, when Rio and her two accomplices, nicknamed Miss Sulphur and Miss Kerosene arrive, we see the inhumane nature that the girls possess, especially the ghastly scene where they violently burn cigars on to Travis's face, leaving significant scorches. One must advocate that there was a momentous amount of shudder that radiated through one's body. The production designates that each side is flawed with their attempts to change how people perceive them and their immense strength to eradicate anyone who doesn’t prove their worth. Ridley’s narrative is severely dark and increasingly gripping as we hunger for what will happen next. The performances by the company of ‘Ghost from a Perfect Place’ were spectacularly fascinating to witness. Sheila Reid is excellent as the doddery Torchie Sparks. One thought she conveyed the innocence of a woman who is none the wiser that Travis is in fact Rio's father. It is pleasant to see Reid in a completely different persona than the one she portrays in hit ITV sitcom, ’Benidorm’. Michael Feast is gratifying as the former gangster, Travis. He signalled an intriguing insight into the dishonourable act of being a leader of a gang with brilliant vocal projection and characterisation. Florence Hall is vivid as the troubled female gang leader, Rio, in particular how she feels about the lack of both mother and father figures, and she proved quite frightening with her collaborators, Miss Sulphur (Scarlett Brooks) and Miss Kerosene (Rachel Redford). Russell Bolam's direction is delicate here, as he has captured the comparisons between how gang culture developed since the 1960’s, and with the introduction of the female gangs were well considered. Such a sublime revival that saw In-Yer-Face-Theatre become established. Anthony Lamble's design is gorgeous as he is encapsulated an East London flat, that has probably seen better days with exceptional attention to detail, especially the palpable effects of the  aftermath of a recent fire, which was caused by Rio. Overall I found the experience of ‘Ghost from a Perfect Place’ a most cherished one and they definite visit to the Arcola Theatre.

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