Review Roundup: Maura Tierney Stars In WITCH At Geffen Playhouse
In this fiendishly funny new play by Jen Silverman, inspired by The Witch of Edmonton by Rowley, Dekker and Ford, a charming devil arrives in the quiet village of Edmonton to bargain for the souls of its residents in exchange for their darkest wishes.
Elizabeth should be the easiest to target, having been labeled a "witch" and cast out by the town, but her soul is not so readily bought. An inventive retelling of a Jacobean drama, this sharp, subversive fable debates how much our souls are worth when hope is hard to come by.
Witch was commissioned by and premiered at Writers Theatre (Michael Halberstam, Artistic Director; Kathryn M. Lipuma, Executive Director).
Tickets currently priced at $30.00 - $130.00. Available in person at the Geffen Playhouse box office, by phone at 310.208.5454 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org. Fees may apply.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Margaret Gray, LA Times: Silverman's dialogue accomplishes so much, so succinctly, that it establishes itself right away as the biggest star of the Geffen Playhouse's starry production. By swapping out the 400-year-old vernacular of playwriting team William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford, Silverman lays bare the relatable emotions of their weird, mostly forgotten play.
Jordan Riefe, THR: A Golden Globe winner for her work on Showtime's The Affair, Tierney is a subtle performer only too happy to dim her wattage and blend seamlessly with the ensemble. Over the years she has honed her theater chops appearing off-Broadway in a 2006 production of Neil LaBute's Some Girl(s) and working twice with the Wooster Group in North Atlantic and a recent international tour of The Town Hall Affair. Here, her character is stirred from a dour existence by the company of the devil, her monotone gradually brightened by the prospect of change.
Danny Margolies, Daily News: Marti Lyons directs this West Coast premiere. The play is superbly cast, with strong actors in each role. Silverman's scene endings are filmic rather than theatrical, so Lyons gets each subsequent scene on its feet instantaneously. Throughout the play, each character has a confessional, an aria. Each is a little different from the others. The Witch speaks to us. Sir Arthur speaks to the portrait of his late wife. Frank speaks to Winnifred. Winnifred speaks to the Devil.
Shari Barrett, BroadwayWorld: Staged on a brilliantly creative two-setting, split-level scenic design by Dane Laffrey which includes a scene-dividing projected face on a screen on which the most extraordinary, ever-changing, light-flashing and color-changing eyes appear, Review: West Coast Premiere of WITCH Shares a Devilish Tale Aimed at Modern Foiblesthis inventive retelling of a sharp, subversive fable debates how much our souls are worth when hope is hard to come by beginning when a charming Devil (Evan Jonigkeit, a black-clad, roguishly perfect scene stealer) arrives in the quiet village of Edmonton to bargain for the souls of its residents in exchange for their darkest wishes. But which of the five inhabitants will agree to sell their soul to attain whatever it is they think will make them happiest?
Victor Riobo, Indulge Magazine: Writer, Silverman turns the soul-bartering cliché on its head. She gives us, instead, an unexpectedly mesmerizing relationship between the Devil and Elizabeth who refuses to strike a deal, and consequently sets off a battle of wits with the Devil ending up infatuated with her. There's also the story of "brothers," Cuddy (Will Von Vogt) and Frank (Ruy Iskandar). While Cuddy, who is gay, is the biological son of the powerful Sir Arthur (Brian George), Frank is more or less adopted. Their rivalry is established from the outset when each commits their soul to the Devil in order to get rid of the other. But while they all go through a metamorphosis, the most fascinating journey is that of the Devil himself who is a given a chance, through his dealing with others, to reevaluate his own existence.
Erin Conley, On Stage and Screen: Everything about Silverman's writing is sharp and layered, injecting a modern-day feminism into a story that could seem dated or simplistic in less skilled hands. But instead, this play could not have come at a better time. As Americans, we are currently facing a world that is in an alarming state of disarray. Between climate change, human rights violations, and horrifying mass shootings becoming practically a part of daily life, it is sometimes hard to keep your chin up, to hold out hope for a better future when humanity seems to have so thoroughly decimated its present. The chance for Elizabeth to be a hopeful or optimistic person passed many years ago. Society has shunned her, abused her, cast her out at every turn-she owes it nothing. The Devil is the only kindred spirit she has encountered in many years, and the unexpected, unconventional relationship they develop is deeply affecting to watch. She does not have much to learn-although we do not discover the price she will set for her soul for a while, it becomes quite clear she has known it all along. But she teaches this incarnation of the Devil, who until now has spent his existence as a junior-level traveling salesman, quite a bit about the true meaning of his "work."
Steven Stanley, Stage Scene LA: Not only does playwright Silverman's latest serve up an abundance of laughs as might be surmised from the above plot preview if not from its 400-year-old source material (John Ford, Thomas Dekker, and William Rowley's The Witch Of Edmonton), it scores equally high marks on the dramatic front with an unexpectedly touching love story and several powerful introspective monologs, and when the dramatic meets the comedic in Von Vogt's tour-de-force Morris dance (choreographed by Jessica Lee Keller) and an extended bit of man-on-man combat (choreographed by Steve Rankin) as hilarious as it is hair-raising as it is devastating, the effect is absolutely stunning.