An atmospheric new musical about witchcraft, betrayal and friendship,
As a new musical, Witch has a future based on the strength of the music alone.
The music, written by Tom Slade and Chris Poon, is gorgeous and beautifully arranged. Contrasting the period setting of the show the score has a modern feel, which adds energy and works really well. There are layers of challenging harmonies, which are impressive from the opening. The four-piece band is tight and responsive with a folky edge and keeps the piece contemporary, although I think some of the darker moments of the piece could benefit from a rougher, more distorted sound. There is not a single weak voice in the company and several were outstanding. The girls’ trio is a particular stand out moment, both well balanced and expressive. The show is musically excellent.
The choreography is strong and well executed, although I think there could be more energy found in the routines. Physical sequences are effectively used and create some of the most disturbing moments of the play.
Unfortunately, the story struggles from following the too familiar tale of an unjust and barbaric witch-hunt in a small Christian community. The structure of the piece means there are few surprises and the storyline is quite predictable, although the final twist does feel unique. The drama is high stakes and although the acting isn't quite strong enough to truthfully convey events of this magnitude, the cast remains energetic and dynamic throughout. Crowd scenes sometimes feel staged rather than natural and scene changes drag. Despite the strong singing voices, spoken projection is an issue throughout the show.
As a new musical, Witch has a future based on the strength of the music alone. Tightening the lag time between scenes and focussing as much time into the script of the show as the music and movement sections would improve this already enjoyable production much further.