The Burning (4 stars)

The Burning

credit: Marko Marsenic

Accomplished storytelling inventively critiques the devastating violence of witch hunts

The popularity of witches in mainstream culture has increased rapidly in recent years; special effect and trope-heavy shows portray the lifestyles of these mystical women as empowering and aspirational. In contrast, The Burning centres upon the cataclysmic reality that followed the coining of this term. Four 'witches' string together significant moments from the history of witch hunts in the UK and Ireland in this women-led production.

Amidst dry-ice fuelled abstract scene changes and a modern day subplot, The Burning builds a narrative from historical facts. This densely textured, fast-paced piece is fluid. The quartet command characters, dialects and props to accelerate the audience through the centuries, evoking emotional responses at every turn.

Patriarchal influence is interrogated with feminist fire; the hypocrisy and absurdity of attitudes towards woman in these times is strung-out through cartoonish portrayals of fumbling lawmakers in London, senselessly passing about papers, making rules that lack intellect and aim to incite fear.

Stories are told on behalf of wrongly-accused women like Elizabeth Clarke whose violent death – which can be extended to over 500 women in the UK – is portrayed with lighting tricks and dramatic physical theatre that has a shattering effect. Ultimately this is accomplished storytelling that inventively critiques the devastating repercussions of witch hunting in Great Britain and beyond.

Pleasance Courtyard until 26 Aug, 3.15pm £12 (£11).

The Burning

  • 4 stars

Incognito stage this physical theatre work about the women throughout history who refused to conform to patriarchal demands and were subsequently branded as 'witches'.

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