Theatre Review: The Witches

By Anna Rogers | 7th September 2016


Roald Dahl’s fantastical world is one which sweeps up both grown ups and children alike, its magic and splendour painted colourfully in your mind forever.

So a stage production of his famous classic ‘The Witches’ sets the bar very high for Dahl fans, and York Theatre Royal’s Youth Theatre Company do not disappoint. From the moment you enter the theatre you are welcomed into the cunning and wonderful world of The Witches. The set is stunning and sets the scene beautifully for the bizarre and bewitching tale about to be told, the frame hanging slightly askew offering a clue to the oddity of the Witches’ world and the idea that things are not always as they seem.

The energy thrown into the play is apparent from the off, the cast projecting their roles off the page and into the real world with enthusiasm and style. From cast members dotted in the audience revealing themselves later on to be witches, to an hilarious interchange in the interval bar space, this company know how to immerse their audience in a true theatrical experience. This is further enhanced by a delicious musical score and superb costumes depicting the ridiculous outfits of the ‘babbling women’ or, as they turn out to be of course, witches!

Each and every single witch brimmed with unique character traits and were boldly and brightly delivered by a strong cast. The delicate relationship of Boy and Grandmother was given real love and the bond between actors Maddie Dury and Rebekah Burland was simply gorgeous to watch. The comic timing mixed wonderfully with the more sentimental moments and allowed the writing to really shine through, the production staying true to the book and encapsulating Dahl’s wit and wonder perfectly. Adults and children alike were giggling away and shrinking back into their seats to see the witches’ true forms, proving the production’s appeal and power to engage every audience member and truly spoil them with a family treat at the theatre.

The fear element of the tale was presented nicely, in the grim and menacing mask worn by the Grand High Witch, played brilliantly by Molly Levitt with a fabulous accent true to the book’s character, which took me straight back to being a little girl playing about with her voice. Occasionally the mask did muffle the vocals of the character but as the production continued, this wasn’t such an issue.

I loved the mouse puppetry and it was such a simple but clever device to further the production’s skilful interactive abilities. I was genuinely wowed over by the unity and strength of the cast and the production as a whole. This production left me hankering for more Dahl-inspired performances from this dazzling team… more please?

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