Award-winning playwright Joe Penhall’s Haunted Child takes us into the lives of a small family unit that consists of an engineer father who returns after weeks of living with, let’s be honest, a cult; a mother worried about the effect her absentee husband is having on her only child; and a child who is struggling to make sense of the tense situation within the house.
Looking back at Penhall’s previous works, it’s not surprising that he has taken on an issue that can be a reality in the UK.
As the stage lit up we were set to be terrified. However, rather than things going bump in the night as one might expect from the spooky trailer, Haunted Child is more comedy than horror. Lines such as; ‘Are you having an affair?’ – ‘No it’s better than that!’ were executed to comic perfection that one could not help but laugh. Even the fully functional kitchen later served it’s comedic purpose, but you’ll have to wait until Act Two.
One should mention that Sophie Okonedo does sexy very well, and Ben Daniels does slightly disturbed even better. And whoever said don’t work with children or animals, clearly needs to see the professional performance of Jack Boulter.
It’s not all fun and games as things do turn serious when Douglas tries to bring his wife Julie round to his way of thinking. Julie actually begins to wonder whether she should join this cult, reject carnal pleasures and all of lives ‘crutches’.
As the play develops you may wonder as we did whether the ‘Haunted Child’ is actually the character of ‘Douglas’ – the father .
This play is well written and effectively executed.
Playing at Royal Court Theatre, you have until January 14 and Monday nights are only £10