Witch (3 stars)

This article is from 2016


A well meaning, yet uninspiring, production of persecution and abandonment

Witch first appeared as a short story in 1967 before being adapted for the stage. Marian Isbister is a plain country girl, but is soon betrayed by neighbours, church and state, and suspected of being a Witch. Despite her pleas she is brought to trial and will soon face the death penalty unless the community, itself gripped by superstition and paranoia, can see the plain truth of what is happening.

Whilst St Magnus Players production is played with enthusiasm and heart, it is cursed by some flimsy performances and a desire to relate the past to the present which ends in overstatement.

Recognisable themes of power and paranoid disillusionment run thick throughout the story, though it is presented with a melodrama that detracts from its impact. Projections of modern day atrocities are plastered on the set, but this just overemphasises the point.

There are some good performances, most notably Erika Leslie as Marian, but some of the actors seem to be competing with each other as to who can be the loudest. The live music works to good effect, but it is not enough to lift this production above its variable performances and over-egged melodrama.

theSpace at Venue45, run ended.


  • 3 stars

St Magnus Players The St Magnus Players return to the 2016 Fringe with Witch by George Mackay Brown and music by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. This powerful tale of the 17th century witch trials in Orkney sets a young girl at the heart of the piece. She is betrayed by Church, State and neighbours, but never loses her dignity.