Hope Theatre, London – until 5 October 2019
In the space of just three shows, Out of the Forest Theatre has indisputably become a no-questions-asked do-what-you-can must-see company for me and so by extension, for you too. Bury The Hatchet (2018’s 7th best show as I’m sure you’ll recall) and On Your Head Be It whetted the appetite last year and now it is the turn of Call Me Fury to weave its theatrical magic at the Hope Theatre.
Using the Salem Witch Trials as a jumping-off point, writer Sasha Wilson and director and collaborator Hannah Hauer-King attempt no less than a complete recasting of the history we think we know and the societal behaviours to which we’ve unflinchingly clung. The result is a bracing history lesson cum TED talk cum musical odyssey that gives an insistent voice to those whom historians have chosen not to record.
I caught the show as a work-in-progress at the VAULT festival and it remains a powerful piece of theatre. Further devised with the company, which now includes Mairi Hawthorn, Gracie Lai and Olivia Kennett with Wilson, the fabric of Call Me Fury is a seamless blend between an exploration of the untold stories of the women of Salem and a set of case studies that span centuries as well as the globe in showing how far and deep notions of ‘witchcraft’ have pervaded.
It is at once more fun than that might suggest – wry humour is laced throughout and Wilson has a marvellous way with a dashing cape – but also deeply respectful with it, driven by a pulsing ache and desperate need to be heard. The score, with its snatches of folk and Americana, provides welcome emotional texture through its variety of stringed instruments (Hawthorne’s witty violin playing is particularly well done). And David Spence’s sparse, autumnal design sets the scene perfectly for this whirlwind of storytelling.
This is the history we should be teaching, these are the stories we should be sharing, Hecate knows these are the questions that we need to be asking. We should be grateful that in Wilson, we have someone as equally able to entertain as educate in getting the message across. Highly recommended.
Running time: 80 minutes (without interval)
Photos: David Spence
Call Me Fury is booking at the Hope Theatre until 5th October
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