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REVIEW: Claudia Osborne and Tasnim Hossain's Adaptation Of BURN, WITCH, BURN Explores Witchcraft To Leave It Even More Of A Mystery

BURN, WITCH, BURN

REVIEW: Claudia Osborne and Tasnim Hossain's Adaptation Of BURN, WITCH, BURN Explores Witchcraft To Leave It Even More Of A Mystery

Saturday 9th July 2022, 7:30pm, Old Fitz Theatre, Woolloomooloo

FERVOUR and Red Line Productions have joined to present Claudia Osborne( Adaptor and Director) and Tasnim Hossain's (Adaptor and Dramaturg) interpretation of Sidney Hayers BURN WITCH BURN (a movie originally released in 1962 as NIGHT OF THE EAGLE), a work in turn based on Fritz Leiber's novel CONJURE WIFE. Capturing many motifs of witchcraft, this work crams too much into the 75 minutes resulting in an experience that is more bewildering than enlightening.

The initial scene of the play has Norman (Alex Packard) sharing a narration of the events leading up to his downfall as the professor who lectures about superstitions and differing beliefs who rejected the notion that his wife would believe in witchcraft and could have manipulated the world in his favor. From this presentation that feels like a stand-up comic sharing a life observation through droll unemotional delivery, the dialogue of the events recounted are reconstructed in direct to the audience delivery that includes Tivy Siripanich as Margaret, a student infatuated with Norman, Alex Stamell as Norman's wife Tansy, and Sheree Da Costa and Daniel Gabriel who take on the roles of Flora and Evelyn, wives of Norman's colleagues. It Is from this point that the work veers off into the absurd.

As the performers slither and creep across Emma White's (Set Designer) calico draped stage in a work that is more physical theatre rather than spoken work drama, elements of stereotypes of wiccan practices are exposed though there is a ridiculousness to it all. From the 30L-50L plastic tubs of straw, sticks, dirt and feathers that seem much more in line with Tansy's original assertion that the materials are for craft projects rather than ritualistic purposes, to the slithering of performers under canvas in order to get to the single microphone for what is supposedly meant to be a disembodied voice haunting the proceedings and the donning of rubber goat head masks. A later return of the narration gave some hope that some semblance of meaning would be given but unfortunately that gets drowned out with the soundscape leaving only partial words audible.

While this work initially showed promise of an interesting night of theatre, and a bit of research into the source material indicates that that this could be a good exploration of the practice of witchcraft and particularly the belief in feminine power to channel energy, this interpretation of BURN WITCH BURN feels more like a work in progress that still has a lot of finessing to go through before it finds its purpose.

Regional Awards


From This Author - Jade Kops

Jade is an Aviation Safety Training Instructor with a love of Theatre, Cabaret, Musical Theatre, and music and is a committed advocate for the live performing arts industry in Sydney and Australia.... (read more about this author)


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