– by Jen Perry
I read a lot of Roald Dahl as a child. In fact, I read a lot of Roald Dahl about a year ago, nostalgic for tales of horrible adults and persevering pre-pubescent protagonists who make all things seem possible. The Witches is a near perfect recreation of these notions in what I’m unashamedly going to call the most enjoyable hour of theatre I’ve experienced in years. It’s that good. And it’s been produced for children.
Directed by Lucas Jervies of the Griffin Theatre Company and presented in Perth by the Barking Gecko Theatre Company, The Witches is a masterful adaptation of David Wood’s stage play and Dahl’s book. Summarily ‘re-imagined’ by Jervies, the play unfolds like the physical opening up of actor Scott Sheridan’s imagination, inviting the audience to delve inside his brain, a stream of consciousness of characters. The story is simple enough, two young boys cross paths with the horrible, no-good grand-poobah of witches, get turned into mice, and must find a way to get rid of them once and for all. The catch here, is that Sheridan plays all of these roles himself, his gait and accents providing the most humorous and inventive switches. It’s inordinately clear when he’s playing the borderline alcoholic father, the wheezing, smoking grandmother or the effervescent and flamboyant French waiter.
The stage, bare of all but a few props and a large trunk, allow Sheridan to sail through the peaks and troughs of the show, from the surprisingly beautiful interlude of the two mice learning to work together to the dark yet hysterical bits of the grand high witch, who manages to ‘blow up’ a subordinate in the second row with a clever placement of a smoke machine. The prevailing theme of the show, uttered with utmost sincerity as the last words in the play, reminds the audience that if you have someone to love, you can be anything, even a mouse.
I urge you to buy tickets to The Witches immediately. Or if anyone asks you to go, simply respond ‘yes please’ and buy that person a drink. You won’t regret it.
Image courtesy of Barking Gecko Theatre Company.