Classic 1953 play by the English Chekhov is fascinating, but rather dated in its values and too clumsy in its production.
The best theatre is controversial theatre, but some controversies just make you want to weep. Out of Joint theatre company has been touring Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern (co-produced with Watford Palace Theatre and Arcola Theatre) since September last year. All was going well until the 13 October performance at Ipswich High School for Girls was cancelled by the venue “citing concerns over the play’s language”. Max Stafford-Clark, Out of Joint’s artistic director, said: “It is deeply troubling that a play which so eloquently examines witch persecutions from a feminist perspective, and looks at the way society treated and continues to treat women, is considered inappropriate for an audience of young women. The school has also said that the inclusion of swearing is inappropriate, a policy which presumably rules out much contemporary drama or fiction for study.” Indeed. But enough about the follies of our educators, what about the play?
Banned at Ipswich School for Girls last year for ‘inappropriate language’, Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s new play, Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern is certainly not the profanity-ridden, immoral cesspool the school made it out to be. Quite the opposite, really. With a cast of characters who are predominately female, this new play reads more like a GCSE English set text that’s a British version of The Crucible.