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The Witches of Eastwick – The Watermill, Newbury

Writer: Based on the novel by John Updike

Music: Dana P.Rowe

Lyricist: John Dempsey

Director: Craig Revel-Horwood

Reviewer: Naomi Stevens

[Rating:3.5]

 

The Witches of Eastwick 2 LtoR Cicci Howells, Greg Last, Rosemary Ashe, Esther Biddle, Gary Mitchinson, Photo Philip TullDancing with the Devil and airing dirty laundry are among the running themes of The Witches of Eastwick, a show whose name gives little of the plot away but whose racy content leaves little to the imagination.

Set in the quiet little town of Eastwick, three friends, Alex (Poppy Tierney), Jane (Joanna Hickman) and Sukie (Tiffany Graves) are discussing their lives over Martinis and their wish that they could meet their ideal man.

The trio fall foul of Felicia (Rosemary Ashe), the self-appointed Lady of Eastwick who frowns upon almost everything that people in the neighbourhood do. Ashe plays Felicia as a force to be reckoned with; stern and disapproving.

Felicias’ vision of a quiet Eastwick is disrupted with the arrival of Darryl Van Horne (Alex Bourne). A smooth, attractive character who clearly knows it, Van Horne’s arrival creates upset and a whole world of gossip. Bourne is simply fantastic as Van Horne. He quickly manages to seduce women into falling for him, encourages men into bringing out their wild side and makes Felicia furious when he starts making alterations to her beloved Lenox House, into which he has moved.

As the story progresses we learn that Alex, Jane and Sukie have skills they know nothing about. Under Van Horne’s influence chaos ensues as the trio turn their mundane lives into something far more raunchy, however, that transformation comes with sinister consequences.

There is a strong sexual theme running throughout this production so it is unsuitable for a younger audience, however it is very funny and it is through the dialogue and songs more than the acting that this is apparent – watch out for some revealing outfits though.

Waiting for the Music to Begin, although very racy, is performed brilliantly by Hickman and Bourne and is a really strong musical number, but all three women have some fantastic songs and play their rôles extremely well.Another highlight Dirty Laundry is hilariously choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood and has the audience in fits of laughter.

Act Two becomes darker and there are some wonderful pieces including Dance with the Devil and The Glory of Me. Both are performed by Bourne – he has the majority of the best lines. The racy theme continues but there are also scenes which contain slightly more disturbing content, however it is done in an amusing way.

Overall there are many memorable songs and extra impressive is that the cast all double up as the orchestra. Each member plays at least one instrument, often more. There were a few moments through the show however, when the singing is drowned out a little by the orchestra and it is hard to hear the words.

There is a lot of action packed onto the small stage and the set has been cleverly designed to fit a lot of it into a small space. The cast also set the stage themselves so there are clever links between scenes. Revel Horwood has clearly put a lot of thought into making this work to its maximum potential.

Because of the content this production may not appeal to everyone, however, the cast as a whole are strong, the songs, though not well-known, are good and it certainly compels you to keep watching.

Runs until September 14th 2013.

Photo: Philip Tull

 

 

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