REVIEW: CALL ME FURY (The Hope Theatre) ★★★

Call Me Fury, a play about the hysteria surrounding witchcraft worldwide, written by Sacha Wilson is a seventy five minute piece of musical dramatic storytelling, it works because of the four actresses telling the stories. They are challenged to play multiple roles, switching between them by the simplest of costume changes and while occasionally we lose the plot, it is mostly very successful. Director Hannah Hauer-King keeps the action moving and varied, using the small space well and adds some delightful creative flourishes.The simple staging is also excellent at setting the play in the autumn of 1692 and is atmospherically lit by Holly Ellis.

The music is a mix of folk, country and western and seventies pop as they accompany themselves on guitar, violin and mandolin. From the opening song “All good sinners go to the fire and brimstone down below” to the closing song “24 minutes to go”, it is a fun (even when the topic is grim) and effective addition to the storytelling and very well performed.

The narrator, and most of the male villains, is Sasha Wilson and she engages the audience often with her piercing eyes and strong presence. She is the voice of the play. Mairi Hawthorn plays mainly Abigail, the young girl who claims “the devil is within me” and accuses many of the local women and that “fear makes shadows take shape”. She also plays a mean violin. Olivia Kennett plays mainly Tithaba, the tragic wife of Samuel Parish and we can sense her isolation and vulnerability of the character. Gracie Lai plays Sarah Goody, who is accused of witchcraft and flying and offers a complimentary voice to the quartet.

They weave in stories from Asia, France and London of similar witch hunts, leading to some gruesome executions of so called witches. But in the final count of 19 deaths in Salem, several were men. There can be no doubt that there were miscarriages of justice in these deaths and that the weak, poor, odd or disliked became easy targets. It is also true that in the dark cold winters of North America, fear was easy to feed.

The play speaks rightly and calls for us to “speak so we will be heard” but without rationale reflection and listening as well, we will never find the right balanced stable way forward that prevents the hysteria taking hold.

Reviewed by Nick Wayne

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