Reviewed – 14th August 2019
“had such potential but the jumping narrative resulted in an unclear message”
This all-female cast took us on a journey, jumping through huge swaths of history to examine the allegations of witchcraft against women. But maybe they bit off more than they could chew by switching between the historical testimonies of the victims and the story of a modern woman, dealing with the death of her mother.
Incognito Theatre Company’s production has been highly anticipated since the success of their last production ‘Tobacco Road’. However, ‘The Burning’ didn’t quite hit the mark that I expected. The ideas shown are intriguing and offer interesting new insights into a topic that can often be summarised by showing voiceless victims of extreme injustice. ‘The Burning’ also presents a novel slant on the printing press as a platform for men to create and implement legislation against women.
The ensemble (Keturah Chambers, Jennie Eggleton, Kimberley Hallam, Phoebe Parker) were skilled in their portrayal of various roles. They used quick costume changes to switch between characters. This was accompanied by slightly questionable accents, that were distracting. It would have been more effective for them to play to their strengths by marking different people by changing their physicality. The movement direction (Ingrid McKinnon and Roberta Zuric) used within the piece was strong and is something that could definitely be utilised more. The strongest moments were when the actors repeated ritualised moves, reminiscent of conjuring.
A key feature of this production was the use of live and recorded sound. Vocal looping of eerie sound effects created a thick and tense atmospheric. This was complemented by design elements (Helena Bonner) such as the repeated use of dry ice and red and blue wash lights. The set was fairly simple as the actors used three wooden blocks to create change within the scenes. In general, the handling of props was well rehearsed and slick.
Where the production fell flat was its structure. The piece went between two main story strands: that of the legacy of different witch trials and that of a modern day woman discovering these stories. The link between the two narratives became entangled in a way that felt forced and disjointed. This let the show down, as the actors were committed and clearly highly competent. This piece had such potential but the jumping narrative resulted in an unclear message. The cast forcefully delivered a final call to action at the end but, as audience members, we were left unsure as to what we were being asked to rally for or against.
Reviewed by Emily Morris
Photography by Marko Marsenic
Pleasance Courtyard until 26th August as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019