Shotgun Theatre Review: The Witches of Eastwick

When I arrived at Kay House to watch ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ by Shotgun Theatre, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I’d never even heard of the musical before this production so I was thinking something along the lines of a Wicked and Macbeth crossover. I could not have been more wrong, and what it turned out to be could not have been better. The play turned out to be a musical, ‘Desperate Housewives’ style drama with incredible amounts of dark, sordid humour and excellent musical numbers with a slight magical element. Given that I was expecting an innocent, mystical play, you can imagine my surprise when Jane, played by Alice McGregor, had to act out achieving an orgasm on stage whilst playing the cello within the first ten minutes of the first act. This may sound somewhat confused, probably due to my poor description, but it was in fact pure brilliance.

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Photo credit: facebook

The plot and writing of the musical alone was enough to make the play outstanding for me. As a girl who adores all varieties of trashy and entertaining dramas this was a musical that felt made to please me, but the highly witty comedy provided by not only the dialogue but also the acting and stage choreography added a level of intelligence to this show, raising it above the ranks of trashy soap operas. The acting was absolutely superb across the board, minus the occasional slip in the American accents, and every single member of not only the main cast but also the ensemble was constantly engaged in the play. Given the extremely physical and sexual aspects of this musical that would surely cause some embarrassment and awkwardness for most student actors, every single relationship was portrayed in a believable and realistic manner, again showing the incredible skill of this cast. Special appreciation has to go to Ben Jackson who played Darryl Van Horne, the male lead, who managed to make me fall in and out of love, or more accurately lust, with him every five minutes.

Of course what really makes a musical so special are the musical numbers themselves. The band, despite being in a separate room, were always perfectly in time with what was happening on stage and each other, and even alone sounded excellent thanks to first year Musical Director James McGregor. Added to this were the incredible vocals of the main cast, who even managed to sustain their American accents whilst singing, a truly impressive feat. Alma Crespo, one of the main cast, literally gave me goose bumps with her voice; if she does not end up in the West End or on the Radio at some point the world will truly be missing out. On top of this brilliant soundtrack was of course the dancing which, in keeping with the rest of the show, was absolutely incredible.

All in all, if you hadn’t already gathered from my enthusiasm, this show was magnificent. The only sad part is that it could only run for three nights and it was not in a bigger space like the Northcott Theatre. However, if the standard of this show is anything to go by Shotgun Theatre are only headed towards bigger and brighter things. If you have the opportunity to see this musical, or anything else by this company, definitely, definitely take it.

Rowan Keith

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