From its spellbinding opening number to its awkwardly hilarious close, The Witches of Eastwick offers a spunky cross between Wicked-style power ballads and foot-tapping dance numbers.
Set in an isolated New England town, the musical explores the relationship between three women and a devilishly handsome newcomer. Their world comes to life in front of simple but effective set, with an opaque screen in the shape of the moon dominating each scene. Dramatic thunder and lightning interspersed with a full range of colourful lighting set the tone of each scene effectively.
The acting was superb all-around. A special shout-out goes to Megan Henson, who hilariously portrays a power-hungry environmentalist in the agony of losing her endangered egrets to encroaching development. The three leading ladies’ numbers together are some of the greatest highlights of the show: the close harmonies can alternately chill and enchant, drawing the audience into this quirky and yet uncomfortably relatable world of yearning for love. Joe Pitts’ airy tenor voice in his 'Something' duet with Georgina Skinner must also be singled out for praise, along with Lucy Dickson’s fast-paced and hilarious 'Words, Words, Words.'
I was remarkably impressed by an innovative scene in which Joanna Clarke, one of the three leading ladies, interacts with George Longworth. Their characters, represented by two musicians on either side of the stage, play the cello and violin with passion and grace while the two actors sing: by placing the instruments outside of their immediate world, the actors are free to perform the scene unencumbered. This creates an alternate reality where two types of music and emotion, the outside instrument and the internal voice, can coexist, to stunning effect.
The choreography was admirably tight, with the actors and actresses dancing just as well as they sang. The already catchy tunes were reinforced by precise dancing, and a special mention must be made to Zak Ghazi-Torbati for his enviously agile dance moves, which had the audience in stitches each time they appeared.
There were a few technical glitches in the opening moments of the show, most frustratingly a microphone issue whose incessant buzzing drowned out the first part of the intricate opening number. Additionally, it was a bit difficult to hear some of George Longworth’s lines, perhaps due to his choice of a husky, quiet voice for his character but also perhaps due to microphone volume. This was a bit of a shame as his dark humour and sly side-comments were so spot-on for most of the show.
The plot itself is rather strange, with uncomfortably casual violence and a dash of witchcraft coexisting with fervent environmentalism and mentions of Stanford University. However, this may simply be the nature of the show: it is a mix of the otherworldly and the familiar, and in its oddity, it may perhaps reflect our own lives more than we would like to acknowledge.
Witches of Eastwick is not to be missed.
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The Witches of Easwick is on at the ADC Theatre, 7:45 p.m. until 07 February. Get your tickets here.