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Review: KISSING THE WITCH at Corrib Theatre

This production runs through June 26.

Review: KISSING THE WITCH at Corrib Theatre

Women always get a raw deal in fairy tales - stuck in towers, sold to strangers to marry, exchanged for men's lives. Most often, they appear as witches - scary, ugly...powerful. And also old, which raises the question, "how does a woman become a witch?" This is the question that drives Emma Donoghue's fantastic play KISSING THE WITCH, adapted from her popular novel of the same name, now running at Corrib Theatre.

This feminist revisioning of classic fairy tales ("Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid," "Cinderella," etc.) gives the women their own stories and allows them to determine their own futures, rather than just being at the mercy (or lack thereof) of the men in their lives. You will not be surprised to discover that there are many paths to witchdom, including choosing it deliberately.

Corrib's production, directed by Tracy Cameron Francis, uses movement and visual effects to bring the magical, mystical nature of fairy tales to the forefront, while also reinforcing that these are real people dealing with real issues, from loneliness and self-doubt to violence and incest (this is not a kids' show).

The highlight of this production is the creative design. The set by Kyra Sanford appears sparse at first glance, but the clever use of various set pieces gives it a lot more depth - the main prop is books, and they're put to just about every use imaginable. One of the most ingenious touches is Alan Cline's lovely and impactful digital projections, which lend an ephemeral nature to the tales.

These visual elements surprise and delight, and they help mitigate the sameness in other aspects of the show. For example, the actors all wear the same sand-colored costume, and the lighting is constantly set to just above candle. The casting reinforces the sameness. The script calls for three women and one man, but here all the roles are played by women. This allows the actors to move seamlessly between characters, but it also dampens the emotional impact of the stories about women wresting control of their lives from vile men.

The actor best able to break through the veil is Nicole Marie Green, a new face in Portland theatre who I hope we'll be seeing a lot more of. Green brings a heightened energy to the stage that raises the emotional stakes and complements the vibrancy of Donoghue's excellent script.

Overall, I found KISSING THE WITCH a great play in want of a little more pizzazz. KISSING THE WITCH runs through June 26 at Milagro Theatre. More details and tickets here: https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2181889®id=83&articlelink=https://corribtheatre.org/kissing-the-witch/?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1

Photo credit: Adam Liberman



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