The piece is delivered by an ensemble of four very talented actors; Keturah Chambers, Jennie Eggleton, Kimberley Hallam and Phoebe Parker. However it is clear that hard work additionally came in from all of their production team. This was a stylish piece in a small space but they used all of the space very well. The set was simple, consisting of just three boxes. The costumes were numerous robes and throw on materials. The characters were aplenty and skilfully portrayed through vocal changes and signifying costume changes.
Opening in an interesting fashion — with the actors mouthing the words delivered via the sound system — the show really took off once they were finally moving and fully portraying the characters. We were introduced to the idea of freedoms, then we got to travel to various points in history, spanning a few hundred years including the present day. Everything we were shown neatly tied together once we were introduced to a modern day ‘Rebecca’ who is going through the mass of papers collected by her mother as research in to local women and ancestors of theirs.
Through ancestors, we really focus on the story of witches over the years, including the great great grandmother. Moreso, it explores the the introduction of laws, the erosion of rights, and the persecution that women in particular have faced.
The story is fast paced, and the motion is frenetic. There is a lot of movement around the small stage - many signalling moves, some balance work, some very touching moments and even one very hard hitting piece of movement early on. You have to work hard as an audience member to tie the threads together, to understand what the stylistic movements are indicating, to follow the changes in characters. It’s important you suspend your sense of realism, and allow them to take you through the story.
The performers seem to make much of the live soundscape, using a loop machine up stage left; they hummed, clicked and sung in to the mic - providing a score, an undertone, a real depth of feeling to the piece. With only very basic lighting available to them in this space, it was used very well and it helped to convey the critical emotions, helped guide focus points and served to reinforce the narrative.
The aforementioned three boxes were well used in the movement direction, creating varying levels on stage and portraying the notion of looking down on to a given scene. Direct address was also used, challenging the audience to take forward the ideas, to consider what if the world around us was burning down. A break away from the hard earned focus of a new reality, but engaging an audience perhaps at the opportune moment for it to have an impact.
With the fast paced delivery and considerable movement, there were a few thrown lines or ill-timed interjections - but the promise this show has, especially once it’s had some more time to bed in, means it’s definitely one to go see if you’d like to experience an informative piece that uses hard-studied theatrical devices in spades.
Playing most days at 15:15pm in Pleasance Courtyard Upstairs, get you tickets at: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/burning