Review: Call Me Fury
Image: Hope Theatre
“The fire of fear is the only flame that burns bright.”
The winter of 1692 was cold and Salem Village finds itself under attack.
CALL ME FURY is about The Witch Trials. Sort of.
A feral scream of rage, this play is a commentary about sexual politics and feminism today.
Using folk songs and stories from Witch Trials across the world, the all-female ensemble "give[s] voice to the women, the poor and the outcasts to ask: what is it that we fear so much that we cease to see others as human?" - Lyn Gardner
Fresh from a SOLD OUT run at VAULT Festival 2019, CALL ME FURY is a new play by Sasha Wilson, author of BURY THE HATCHET (VAULT 2018 People's Choice Award Winner and Off West End Award Winner for Best Ensemble).
For women then, now and always.
But also for you gents.
When writer and performer Sasha Wilson asked the audience at the start of this show whether they had read Arthur Miller's The Crucible, a shudder ran down my spine prompted by the thought that this might be one of those embarrassing quizzes where one's mind instantly flushes like a WC, removing any trace of knowledge and exposing one as a fraud and, possibly, a gibbering idiot.
Thankfully, and offering quick relief to the torments of literary terror, the question is merely a one-off, acting as an introduction to this well-crafted and creative piece of storytelling that focuses on the Salem witch trials which Arthur Miller crafted into his well-known play from 1953 that still finds regular stage time.
Ms Wilson's introductory point, however, focused our attention on whether Mr Miller had managed to evidence the factual details of the Salem trials.
Just in case your memory is as fragile as mine, the Salem prosecutions and executions took place between 1692 and 1693 in Massachusetts when more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft and resulted in 14 women and 5 men being executed by hanging.
In Call Me Fury, the central story focuses on the people involved in the Salem trials, but reaches out to reveal other cases of alleged witchcraft at various times and locations, even leading up to modern times in the present century in the UK.
Theatre company, Out of The Forest Theatre, thus construct a layered storyline, richly embellished with singing and music, to accompany a narrative that even encompasses details of unusual techniques for detecting witches.
One such invention, described here as 'the great British classic' was the 'witch cake' - composed of an odd assortment of ingredients, it was fed to a dog with the imaginative intention of causing the canine to seek-out witches.
The accusing finger here for the protracted prosecution of witch hunting certainly gets pointed at men as those with excessive power over women and "ugly thoughts".
But the show also takes a significant swipe at religion too, highlighted in the biblical phrase "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live".
The production, however, also gives us a psychological flavour of the times of the Salem tragedy when the 'Night season' (winter) injected an enormous dose of fear, if not downright terror, into daily lives and arousing, perhaps, vivid and weird imaginings to take hold.
In this exposition, religion, fear, male dominance, superstition and ignorance all play a part in the shocking and pernicious treatment of those identified as witches.
Cast of Call Me Fury - photo by David Spence
Movement finds an important role in this well-devised, well-delivered and arresting piece.
From the very first moments we find three women swaying on stage as we file into the theatre, but the significance of their action is only revealed at the end, neatly tying-off the poignant end many witches have endured throughout history.
But inventive and well-thought out movement is counterbalanced and combined with songs and music as well as some satisfying dramatic interludes in a work which clearly demonstrates the immense talents and impressive capabilities of this cast.
Larger themes, with ample modern day relevance, underly Call Me Fury as one might discern from the foregoing and the piece as a whole provides a poignant warning and reminder that the price of justice, equality and harmony in society is the constant application of prudent vigilance and a large dollop of common sense.
Imaginatively engaging, highly recommended and well-worth catching.
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ActDrop listing for Hope Theatre
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