Women, beware the devil in Almeida’s review
In the 17th century, in an elegant house run by Lady Elizabeth (Lydia Leonard) and a handful of servants, the wench Agnes (Alison Oliver) is a witch with high social ambitions. In a Faustian pact with Isabella (who, it is suggested, sold her soul to the devil), she helps her mistress secure the legacy of her great house.
A male heir is required, so Elizabeth’s brother Edward (Leo Bill) magically marries the virginal but eager Catherine (Ioanna Kimbook).
Unfortunately, while Unsteady Eddie is happy to have servants, he is reluctant to perform conjugal duties with his wife. Meanwhile, England is on the brink of civil war.
In Raczka’s work there is no lack of ideas, but none are developed.
The limits of female empowerment in a patriarchy, the fallacy of permanence and social class divisions are themes that float like driftwood that never comes together to form a stage-worthy vessel, despite Rupert Goold’s typically clean direction. .
And how is it possible to fire three shots from a double-barreled shotgun without reloading? Witchcraft, probably.
- Women, Beware the Devil, Almeida Theatre, London, until March 25. Tickets: 020 7359 4404
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