If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a BIG surprise. After their Broadway Baby Bobby winning show, Enter the Dragons, A&E Comedy have created another roaring success in Witch Hunt. Skewering fairy tales and traditional gender roles isn’t anything new in 2020; after all everyone from respected author Jeanette Winterson to the Disney film Enchanted has a go at reinterpreting and making fun of the restrictive stereotypes peddled without question until the late 20th century. However, the self-proclaimed ‘comedy powerhouse’ pairing of Abigail and Emma make even well worn criticisms about tired tropes feel fresh and exciting.
bigger, bolder and funnier with their jokes.
Through a series of sketches, Abigail and Emma create a whole cast of characters, each one more hilarious than the last. From a sexist randy wolf, to witches baring all on night-time flights, to an overly cheery Hansel and Gretel, across the hour you are inundated with new characters to laugh at and with. The show’s comedic range covers everything from buffooning to visual gags to surrealism to poetry to topical satire, ensuring that anyone will be able to find something to laugh at, although most will find it harder to stop laughing. Even this usually stony faced reviewer couldn’t help giggling along throughout.
Their success comes from never being afraid to be that bit bigger, bolder and funnier with their jokes. They embrace absurd props, X-rated puppets and really absolutely anything they know will be sure to send their audience into ripples of laughter. In fact, the puppets are so well crafted you can scarcely believe they’ve only been created for cameo appearances. And the costumes. Oh, the costumes. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to spot any of A&E Comedy’s publicity material you’ll know they understand how to catch a passing eye. Bold, bright and entertaining in their own right, they bring the world created on stage to life and are used in some unforgettably creative ways.
Abigail and Emma are clearly the driving force behind Witch Hunt’s success, but credit must also go to director Cal McCrystal who has managed to squeeze every last drop of comedy out of every scene. You need no further evidence of this than the much anticipated magic trick which had everyone rolling about in their seats.
On Witch Hunt’s opening night at The Old Market, the show was ably supported by opening act The Pushkinettes who performed sequences from their upcoming Brighton Fringe show, Anna KareniNa Na Na. Whoever looked at Tolstoy’s tragic masterpiece and decided it would make great starting material for some physical comedy certainly has a unique imagination, but the risk paid off. A cold Tuesday evening can be a tough sell for comedy, but they steadily and assuredly warmed up the awaiting audience with their amusing bickering and laugh out loud funny flirtations. One rope based joke went a little too far and lost some of the audience’s good will they had done well to build, but they soon bounced back with talented musicianship.
Political without being preachy, even though Witch Hunt is obviously tightly scripted the performances feel so off the cuff and intimate they generate an infectious energy and atmosphere of spontaneity. These two women are unafraid, unabashed, completely hilarious and very, very silly to boot. Catch them if you dare.