The Witches of Eastwick

Tue 3rd – Sat 7th February 2015

reviews

Dominic McGough

at 00:57 on 4th Feb 2015

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The Witches of Eastwick was a play that shocked, amused and delighted in equal measure. An irreverent and dark comedy, it had the audience giving a standing ovation after a performance that, while not always slick, captivated a packed ADC theatre with powerful acting and music.

The witches themselves, played by Julia Kass, Lucy Dickson and Joanna Clarke, gave strong performances as three women unlucky in love and trapped in suburbia, represented by Felicia Gabriel (Megan Henson) and her egret conservation scheme. Their acting explained their characters well from the very first instance, allowing the audience into their emotions through subtle cues and passionate vocals. Their character progression framed the play from start to finish: there was a clear juxtaposition between the forlorn women dreaming of their perfect man; and the confident friends whose insecurities were no more.

The star of the show was undoubtedly George Longworth as the devilish Darryl van Horne: a playboy and the object of the witches’ desires. His performance had the audience in the palm of his hands; as emphasised by bold and ambitious choreography in which the entire cast were puppets for his dramatic entrance. He handled a difficult role with skill: making every man in the room jealous of his effortless womanising, before causing us all to recoil as his latent chauvinism is laid bare. Another strong performance was given by Joe Pitts as Michael Spofford: his singing was among the best in the cast, and he immediately elicited sympathy through his charming portrayal as the nervous young sweetheart.

A rich seam of dark comedy ran through the play; mostly through one-liners and wordplay. Zak Ghazi-Torbati’s performance as Clyde Gabriel, the long suffering husband reliant on scotch, was wickedly funny: his dour facial expressions and lack of enthusiasm in perfect contrast to the larger-than-life characters throughout the stage. Another welcome comic foil was Marge (Olivia Gaunt), whose gossiping nature epitomised the superficiality of the town of Eastwick.

Also present throughout was a strong overtone of sexual energy; and its refusal in the puritanical nature of the town’s residence. While never explicit, the audience were left in no doubt as to the actions of the witches while in Darryl’s mansion. His three seductions were well directed: they showed his often uncomfortable womanising, while demonstrating his position as the ideal seductor.

The only things detracting from an otherwise superb performance were slight errors in choreography. The ambitious dancing and set pieces were sometimes let down by slightly unsynchronised movement and a lack of commitment and uniformity. On the whole, however, the bombastic musical numbers impressed.

Overall, the play was a roaring success, an exciting and rewarding combination of dark themes and acerbic wit which had the audience on their feet at the final curtain. The more explicit themes were dealt with well, while the cast gave their all in an excellent, if not always perfectly polished, performance.

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Comments

Grace Smith-Jones; 4th Feb 2015; 09:20:34

Couldn't agree more, it was an incredible show. I've bought another ticket for closing night, to see how it develops.

Good luck to other shows/musicals this term - this will be a bloody tough act to follow.

Well done to Sarah Mercer & Joe Beighton (and their directing teams).

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