The Exorcist - Theatre Royal Windsor: 3/5

Returning to the theatre for its third production - and its first since a successful run in the West End - The Exorcist aims to chill the audience and remind everyone exactly what caused so much of a stir when the film graced the screens back in 1973.

After actress Chris MacNeil and her daughter Regan move into a new house while she films her latest movie, paranormal events begin to occur and get progressively scarier - until Regan herself begins to change in malign and frightening ways.

One should be immediately struck at the stage.

A dark and brooding house lies in wait and captures the eye. You know this place is quietly evil, and as the actors glide about the halls and rooms, you feel uncomfortable for them.

In this sense, the theatre production works perhaps better than the film, with whitewash walls from the film replaced with dark wood staging, to give a more eerie and ancient feel to the place.

The Exorcist worked best when it fully utilised the house. A scream of carnal and other-worldly agony is heard ‘upstairs’, which resonates across the stage as characters must scurry to investigate. In these moments you were fully in the moment with the character, feeling their dread.

There are moments that shock - and yes, they do manage to pull off the famous 360-degree head turn - and the score works well enough to keep you on edge.

Coupled with the rich use of special effects, there is no time to get bored during the 100-minute show.

However this productions falls down a little with its script and pacing.

A personal criticism of the film is that Father Merrin is only present at the beginning and end.

That is still true with the stage production, and thus a disconnect exists with any emotion we are supposed to feel for him at the climax.

And whilst the stage is well-used, it cannot hide the rather clumsy execution of some scenes - perhaps, as the director admitted before the show started, because they ran out of time to hold a dress rehearsal.

Important and uncomfortable plot points sometimes felt a bit rushed.

The experienced horror fanatic will find few scares here and only a slight sense of creeping dread, but the more moderate audience will most likely find that this play more than tickles a macabre itch.

Special mention should go to Susannah Edgley (Regan MacNeil) and Tristram Wymark (Burke Dennis) who carried the performance from both a horror and comic relief perspective.

Overall, The Exorcist is an interesting ride that definitely blunts its own point in places, but still provides enough intrigue and enjoyment to entertain.