CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Review: Call Me Fury, at The Hope Theatre

26 September, 2019 — By Clair Chapwell

The quartet of performers in Call Me Fury are also excellent musicians. Photo: David Spence

GREAT opener: we enter the tiny, claustrophobic Hope Theatre in blood red light aware of four women in dress reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale, twisting and swaying to a mournful Celtic fiddle.

Lights up, and sassy play­wright/performer Sasha Wilson asks who has read Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible about the Salem witch trials in the late 1600s.

We are treated to some stunning performances by a superb team of four women (Wilson, Mairi Hawthorn, Gracie Lai, Olivia Kennett). All slip into a host of parts, including men and children.

The production, directed by Hannah Hauer-King, is stylish and sharp using this excellent quartet. Each performer is also an excellent musician on mandolin, violin and guitar.

The use of music is witty and surprising.

A wonderful Country and Western number, Ain’t Goin’ Back to Salem Village, is fun alongside the spine-tingly, shivery Celtic numbers that ribbon their way through the piece.

There are some anachronistic references thrown in from today: “You can’t handle the truth!”; “Gotta drain that swamp!”

Some things just work in every century.

And yet despite excellent acting and direction, the play feels somewhat shapeless. An over-abundance of characters means that character development is lacking.

Wilson begins the piece with a high level of indignant rage that left her no place to go.

She is clearly a skilled writer, but rather than developing individual characters from the Salem trials she seems to become overwhelmed by the number of women throughout history who have been called witches and murdered by men: Anna from Bavaria; the Nigerian child in London drowned as a suspected witch.

The Salem story gets somewhat lost. It is here we wonder if we are watching a play or listening to a political tract.

Call Me Fury is an appropriate title.

Until October 5
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