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HomeOperaAssessment: White Witch, Bloomsbury Theatre

Assessment: White Witch, Bloomsbury Theatre


There may be monumental potential for Barry Reckord’s play White Witch. He’s a celebrated Jamaican
author, and the piece returns to the London stage after a profitable run on the
Chelsea Theatre in 2015. The story in itself additionally catches my consideration – “primarily based
on a real story, set round Rose Corridor [….] White Witch is a story of mysticism,
love, cruelty and revenge, forged towards the Atlantic slave commerce.” Palmer (a
slave proprietor performed by Robert Maskell) brings his new spouse Annie (Georgina
Baillie) again to his plantation in Jamaica. Rumours of magic and witchcraft
swirl round Annie, who finds no pleasure in sleeping together with her husband and
as an alternative seeks it with the slaves who run his family. The premise units up White Witch fantastically – and but,
sadly, my viewing of it leaves a lot to be desired.

To get the extra technical factors out of the way in which first, I discover the most of the actors’ projection poor. Though I’m sat comparatively close to the stage, I can barely hear Baillie’s voice, and the continual shouting of Maskell’s character signifies that his phrases slur collectively and I generally really am unsure what he’s saying. So as to add to this, although Baillie’s character Annie is the principle protagonist, her appearing is kind of picket. She employs a restricted vary of feelings and tones, and thus I discover it laborious to remain engaged when she speaks. This lies in direct distinction with the wonderful Natasha Springer, who performs a maid known as Chloe – she has unbelievable highs and lows, and soars from restrained to scenes of utter delirium, dancing and screaming across the set. Sadly for Baillie, Springer’s excellence as one of many extra minor characters solely serves to undercut her efficiency because the protagonist.

The manufacturing and staging can also be disappointing. Usually the
scenes are chaotic and messy, with characters slamming in and outside at
random. Some scenes finish too abruptly and I’m left questioning what has simply
occurred. By the tip of the play, I really feel genuinely misplaced – not solely as a result of the
plot strikes too shortly (in some way alongside dragging dialogue), but in addition as a result of
most of the actors communicate so shortly I can’t perceive. The ultimate revelation
of the play, which I believe is meant to be an thrilling twist, means nothing
to me, as I actually have no idea what is occurring and don’t really feel invested in any
of the characters onstage.

I perceive I’ve been harsh on White Witch, however I believe this stems from my disappointment at
missed potential.There are
fascinating themes right here surrounding related subjects corresponding to abortion and race,
and there are various vibrant moments the place I chortle and gasp due to the appearing
of Springer, Okon Jones, Judith Jacob, Charles Tomlin and Nathan Thomas. I solely
want these actors and their characters had extra time to shine. For me, having
the plotline centred round Palmer’s spouse Annie, the white witch (Baillie),
signifies that the storylines of the marginalised are undersold. I need to know
extra concerning the slaves on this play, I need to hear extra about their factors of
view. As a substitute, we get too many dialogues from Baillie, which I can’t actually
hear, and which additionally generally creep dangerously right into a story of white saviour
complicated.

White Witch has the roots of an essential play: its themes of abortion and race within the 18th century change into extra related by the day; some components of the plot shine; and several other actors are fantastic. Nevertheless, in its execution, it actually misses the mark.

White Witch is enjoying the Bloomsbury Theatre till 18 September 2021. For extra info and tickets, see the UCL Tradition web site.

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