BWW Review: THE LAST WITCH, Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Set in 1727 on the North East coast of the Scottish Highlands, Rona Munro's The Last Witch tells the story of the last woman to be burned for witchcraft.
Janet Horne (Deirdre Davis) is very open with her friends and neighbours about her power. She's playful with it, and threatens to charm and curse anyone who she thinks has wronged her. After an argument with Douglas who lives next door, he suspects that she has cursed his cattle and pleads with her to lift it. She takes credit for healing animals and doing good among the community as well as occasional harm.
Fiona Wood is excellent as Helen Horne, Janet's daughter. The pair don't have any food or peat for the fire but her mother laughs it off and claims she will summon the forces and provide for them. At just seventeen, it seems Helen is wise beyond her years as she concludes that her mother is living a fantasy and takes matters for their survival into her own hands.
When new sheriff comes to remote Dornoch he is initially captivated by Janet and intrigued by her charms. He later turns on her and demands she be tried as a witch. David Rankine plays the role of Captain David Ross perfectly- a naïve young man to begin with and then a bitter and twisted villain, determined to make Janet suffer for his bruised ego.
Ken Harrison's set design makes the piece wonderfully atmospheric. The cracked stone floor manages to convey the freedom that Janet feels in the outdoors and the oppression of the prison cell- without ever changing. Later in the show it begins to smoke and burn which is incredibly effective during the final scenes.
The Last Witch feels like something you could dissect for hours. Was Janet Horne really a witch? Was her daughter really visited by the devil? Were the witch hunts just something the men used to have power over women? With such passionate performances from the entire cast and a rich, poetic script, The Last Witch is a must-see.
The Last Witch runs at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow until Saturday 3rd November