I did not know as I braved the baltic conditions of the new Theatre N16 space that Bury The Hatchet had won the “People’s Choice” award at the recent lauded Vaults Theatre festival – but I am unsurprised.
With a truly innovative and pacey form of storytelling, interspersed with a well chosen and beautifully executed fusion live soundtrack of folk and prairie bluegrass music, this young and original theatre company provide a witty and thought provoking take on the events surrounding the real life historical murders of Andrew and Abigail Borden in Massachusetts in 1892.
Though Lizzie Borden was tried and acquitted of the crime, she has gone down in history as “the one that got away with it” inspiring folklore, tabloid interest, nursery rhyme and numerous theatrical depictions.
In this production, though I knew the tale of old, I definitely felt I came away having been both entertained and educated, learning new facts surrounding both the time and the case and it made me look at aspects I had not previously considered with regard to the whys and the wherefores.
Conversely, my companion, with no prior knowledge of Lizzie Borden, felt that though he enjoyed the way three actors with minimal set and lighting were able to convey the overall story he didn’t find that the characters were well rounded enough to have any kind of empathy and that it was more like, in his words “watching a particularly well-staged historical lecture”.
Bear in mind however, that the show runs at just under an hour and they definitely tell the story – if not from an empathetic or heart wrenching point of view.
With their stylistic storytelling as actor musicians this black box production could easily be performed in the traverse or open air at festivals and I can see it adapting to most spaces and anticipate it having another outing in the not too distant future.
Overall, with intelligent musings and clever topical references alongside a good old fashioned murder story and my kind of music, I would thoroughly recommend this production and indeed future work from this company is well worth looking out for.
Reviewed by Nicole Faraday