Witches can't be burned - review

This is a review of Sophie Mitchell's 'Witches can't be burned'. I initially look at her past work and then relate it to this one, and finally I give my opinion.

Review: Miss Mitchell’s ‘Witches can’t be burned’

Having previously worked with Miss Mitchell, I understood the sort of atmosphere that I expected to be created through ‘Witches can’t be burned’. Firstly, I expected her to create a very real atmosphere, with each character acting genuinely. Indeed, I thought the whole show would be based in reality, reflected in the set, costumes, and acting. Zooming into the acting now, I also expected the relations between the characters to feel real and honest, which would be aided by the fact that, from my experience, the cast would work very closely with each other, and thus there would be a very good connection between the actors themselves, which would therefore be represented in the characters. Picking out specific actors, I had previously worked with both Max and Bella, who played the main roles, and so I had my expectations as to how they would act. For Bella, I had already seen her in the sorts of roles she played in ‘Witches can’t be burned’, so I expected that she would pack the same punch as she usually does. With Max on the other hand, I had previously seen him in more serious roles, and so I was intrigued as to how he would manipulate his role in ‘Witches’. Finally, Sophie Mitchell tends to bring a more mature and humorous approach to her work.

In watching Witches, these expectations were indeed fulfilled. We immediately, in the first scene, get a sense of the comedic, realistic atmosphere present throughout. The costumes and set aided this feeling; even though they were just wearing school uniforms, the smaller details like lengths of ties really made these characters feel real. Furthermore, the set was utilized very effectively, using pieces like the wall for the teacher’s office or simply the stage blocks as bus seats made the whole environment feel closer to that of a real school. I should also mention these smaller moments of unscripted conversation: often the characters would be having small chats in the background which, for me, strengthened the character’s relationships with each other, without taking away the focus from what was mainly happening on stage. This was all expected from Miss Mitchell, but what I didn’t expect were the pictures telling us the time above the actors. I found this a nice little addition – it gave the piece a more episodic feel. Moving onto the individual actors, I was very excited to see Bella interpretation of the more rebellious character, not afraid to stand up for what she believes, and, unsurprisingly, she whacked it out of the park, giving her character the same amount of energy and emotions as I would have expected. Directing our attention to Max, I was very interested to see his take on a character more based in reality. I must say, I was very impressed; Max was perfectly able to straggle the line between serious and silly to create a very engaging and genuine character. Finally, it should be said that Tigo, another actor who I have previously worked, fully fulfilled my expectations, with him perfectly giving a more comedic approach to his character. Finally, I would just like to mention that the tone of the piece was quite a bit more mature than what I was expecting, there were many risqué jokes sprinkled throughout which took me by surprise at times.

Overall, I had a wonderful time watching ‘Witches can’t be burned’. I felt the cast bounced off each other brilliantly and the jokes were funny throughout. I loved how the very beginning set a very spooky tone with the character’s performance for their school competition, only for it to be juxtaposed with the normal world afterwards – perfectly setting up the difference between their production and the actual production. Sticking with the opening, it would be wrong of me not to mention the charming moment where the boys stuck their heads out of the curtains – I found this absolutely brilliant and wonderfully set up the comedic nature of the boys throughout. In short, I found all these small little moments thoroughly charming. All in all, a very enjoyable show with a brilliant cast – stars in the making!

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Eric Dykes

Eric Dykes

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