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Powerful drama for the 21st century

A Haunting, Belgrade B2, Coventry, Wednesday and Thursday, October 4 & 5.

Online grooming has become a problem for the 21st century. It would have beyond all comprehension to previous generations. Young and vulnerable children are an easy target for predators under cover of the internet’s anonymity, and social media makes it all too easy for them to find a target... Writer Nathan Lucky Wood chose to turn this phenomenon into a powerful drama which peels away the layers of modern day family life. A Haunting begins on Halloween with 15-year- old Mark (Roly Botha) alone in his bedroom playing a violent video game. He is also having an online chat with an older male known only as Ghost (Jake Curran).

Through this online relationship Mark is encouraged to reveal his fantasies, while Ghost sends him some horrific videos of ISIS propaganda. But while his mum (Helen Belbin) is away, immersed in work and thinking up ways of making Complan a sexy product, Ghost is keen to meet up with Mark. The characters are authentic; the writing is original and at times darkly funny. Gradually the story line develops to reveal more twists and tales: the dysfunctional family, the absent father, the isolated child.

The acting is strong. All three manage to develop their characters to show their increasingly complex lives but for me the ability of Roly Botha to portray the truculent adolescent with all the anger, innocence and curiosity that accompanies that time when you are no longer a child, but not yet an adult. The audience remains transfixed, but the ending is unexpected as the Ghost reveals his true identity. The plot, at times implausible, does make the audience reflect on how our past lives can come back to haunt us.

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