Toil and trouble . . . and fun

Feeling a touch light headed: Oliver Evans and Naomi Lee Schulke and Roy and Beth

Three Witches

B2 Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

****

WITCHES get such a bad press but Hagwitch, the central character (Katherine Toy) in the Three Witches, billed as comic gothic for all the family, is pretty, sensible, mischievous and funny, an excellent musician plus warm and kind to the young brother and sister Beth and Roy who wander into her castle one dark night.

Four excellent, energetic and versatile actors tackle all the roles in this Hoopla Theatre production so Naomi Lee Schulke and Oliver Evans play Beth and Roy and witches Firestone and Puckle in a production that also includes music, songs and brilliant projection work.

There’s also puppetry in the form of a Cockney Crow (the coffin-chaser) whose comic observations add immensely to the action.

This re-imagining of Macbeth is set in the old castle; derelict and unloved for the nearly1,000 years that Hagwitch has been the Castle-Keeper, and destined by the Scottish Laird (Simon Spencer-Hyde) to be demolished next day if human tenants can manage to stay the night; against the run of play and showing sufficient courage to thwart two curses.

Beth and Roy are told ‘Don’t try on the crown and don’t sit on the throne’ – but, naturally they do and the Macbeth curses – that one will be murdered and the other go mad – edge towards fruition.

There are as many plot twists as a little dog’s hind leg but the one I absolutely adored was the delicious concept that Lady Macbeth could have been saved from her madness if she’d simply said sorry.

The fight scene between the children and the ‘ghost’ was wonderful – though I kept worrying that they’d knock the talking statue off the podium rather than suffer injury…

In short, the little people in the audience – average age about eight - were very obviously enthralled, tickled, scared and comforted in turn. This production scores on so many levels but, most particularly, as a starter pack into art appreciation is a must-see.

There’s a smattering of Shakespeare, all of the actors are good multi-instrumentalists on guitar, trumpet, saxophone, piano, accordion and double bass, the use of projections particularly those of the two other witches onto Hagwitch’s wonderful coat.

I really enjoyed this production and as we edge towards Halloween it has even more relevance. Take your little ones but expect to have a great time yourself – because you will. Written by Philip Monks and directed by Jenny Stephens the witches cast their spell to 12-10-13. 

Jane Howard 

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