Stalking the Bogeyman
Markus Potter and David Holthouse with additional writing by Santino Fontana, Shane Zeigler and Shane Stokes
David Adkin and NewYorkRep
Southwark Playhouse (The Little)
In 1978 on a visit to neighbours while his parents were entertained upstairs, in a basement playroom, a 7-year-old boy was bullied and raped by the hosts’ 17-year-old son Nathan. He became the Bogeyman nightmare who terrorised the youngster's childhood and cast a shadow over the rest of his life.
That 7-year-old was David Holthouse; this isn’t fiction. It is Holthouse’s own story dramatised by him and director Markus Potter. It is a story of rape and of revenge.
Revenge came a quarter century after the traumatic incident in an Anchorage, Alaska basement when Holthouse, a successful journalist in Denver, was rung by his parents who said Nathan had also moved to Denver. They thought he’d want to make contact for they knew nothing of what had happened, Holthouse had told no one. He wouldn’t get in touch but he would start making plans to kill him.
In flashback, the play reveals the whole story. The wish David feels that his parent’s should never know, his action to foil the activity of a sports coach with some of his school chums, his fear that he himself could do something similar and his careful plotting to acquire a weapon, learn how to blur ballistic evidence and set up a murder with which he would never be associated.
Gerard McCarthy plays David, Mike Evans is Bogeyman Nathan, both as adults and youngsters. McCarthy has a fresh-faced, innocent demeanour that helps take the years off but both he and bearded Evans make their junior selves seem real kids. Nathan may be a school jock, in the team, but he’s immature and irresponsible. These are stunning performances, McCarthy exceptional.
There is fine playing too from Geoffrey Towers and Glynis Barber as David’s parents and John Moraitis and Amy van Nostrand as the Crawfords (the latter also doubling a Latino gun source and a coke-sniffing psychiatrist).
Is the abuser telling the truth when, finally confronted, he claims this was a one-off occasion? Only he knows (and to avoid identification Nathan Crawford isn’t his real name and Holthouse’s original telling said he was only 14). Has he felt guilty about it or largely wiped it out of his memory? That we can’t know but this gripping staging shows how deeply such trauma can affect lives, and not just those of the victims.
This isn’t a long play, just 85 minutes without an interval but it is well constructed and very moving. All rape is traumatic, but child rape can leave even more scars.