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Haunted Child; The Bollywood Trip; The Canterbury Tales – review

17 December 2011 4:07 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Royal Court; Queen Elizabeth Hall; Southwark Playhouse, London

Haunted Child is its own ghost. Joe Penhall's new play is like a strange afterbirth, an epilogue, an addendum that flits around the stage when the main action has finished.

Penhall, who wrote the screenplays for The Road and Enduring Love, established himself as a writer for the theatre 11 years ago with Blue/Orange, in which he made a debate – about race and psychiatry – twist and turn as few others now do on stage. In Haunted Child the central confrontation is muffled. On one side is a woman – rational, anxious, sharp-witted – battling to protect her son after the unexplained disappearance of his dad. On the other is Dad, who, when he bobs up, turns out to have taken up with a new-age religious sect whose leadership demand that he glugs down pailfuls of salt water, abstains from sex, and hands over a tithe of his property. »

- Susannah Clapp

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