The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster

Gareth Jandrell

Dawn State Theatre Company

Pleasance Courtyard

From 05 August 2015 to 30 August 2015

Rating: *****

Review by Graeme Strachan

Taking inspiration from Thomas Potts's historical account of the same name, Dawn State brings the story of the Pendle witches to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Staged as a play within a play, the company cast themselves as the clerk Potts, the local magistrate Roger Nowell and Jennet Device, the young daughter of one of the witches in question.

Having toured for some nine years after the events, the trio are falling on hard times and it becomes ever more clear that there are subtle animosities and grievances at work between them not immediately apparent.

Considering the acclaim that Dawn State received across the board for last year's mesmeric rendition of The Man Who Would Be King, it's no surprise that this is a high calibre production.

Dan Nicholson and Christopher Birks are excellent as the stoic and focused Nowell and the embittered and grumpy Potts, while Amy Blair bears the difficult task of delivering a layered performance with delicate subtlety.

The play manages to touch on themes of paranoia, victimisation, superstition, deceit and manipulation as they recount the tale of their journey to Pendle and their meetings with the suspected witch, Demdike, and her daughter.

There's a surprising amount of humour in the proceedings as well, which only serves to underline the horror and the violence of the story as the realities of the events become less storylike and more clearly real.

A brilliant return to the Fringe from a fantastic young, upcoming company.