★★★★★ | Ghost from a Perfect Place: Arcola Theatre, London

Multi award-winning playwright Philip Ridley returns to the Arcola with his contemporary classic Ghost From A Perfect Place, a scorchingly dark comedy where a monster from the past meets the monsters of the present.

Twenty years after its premiere at Hampstead Theatre, Ghost From A Perfect Place has its first major revival under the direction of Russell Bolam, following his critically-acclaimed production of Ridley’s Shivered (Southwark Playhouse 2012).

Back in the 1960s, Travis Flood led a gang that terrorised East London. Now, after an absence of many years, he returns to find his old turf in the clutches of a new kind of gang with a new kind of leader. Rio, the ruler of a mob of girls, instantly captivates Travis with her haunting beauty but soon a shocking story begins to emerge and it is one that shatters both their distorted memories.

A stark half burnt out council flat in Bethnal Green sees Torchie (played by the excellent Sheila Reid) entertaining the returning gangster, Travis Flood (Michael Feast) as he waits to meet up with her prostitute granddaughter, Rio for sex. Torchie fondly regales him with tales of their ‘heydays’ and unfurls the terrible story of how her life fell apart.

Ridley’s play is both hilariously funny and horrific in equal measures. The audience both laugh and wince as the play hurtles towards (a not unexpected) yet shocking conclusion. The cast are excellent with Sheila Reid (Madge from Benidorm) showing her skill as an actress. Michael Feast is a superbly edgy yet absurd Travis Flood and the two are more than ably supported by a cast of three young actresses as the terrifying Rio and her disciples.

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This production is a real triumph for the Arcola and the staging and direction are faultless. This is theatre at its gritty best and Ridley’s play has lost none of its relevance to disconcert, even after twenty years.

Ghosts from a Perfect Place runs until 11/10/14

Buy tickets here: http://www.arcolatheatre.com/production/arcola/ghost-from-a-perfect-place-by-philip-ridley