Livewire Theatre's Salem
[email protected]'s Hall
You have to give credit to Livewire for never making things easy for themselves. I've been watching the company with keen interest for half a decade now, enjoying their masterful takes on literary classics and gently subverting them into whole different realms of meaning. It came as little surprise then to hear that the company had chosen to perform three different shows back to back each night of their Fringe calender. The only trouble with this idea is the possibility that such a hectic workload would be too much for the players to accomplish to their usual level of artistry. This thankfully has not been the case.
Livewire's take on the Salem witch trials of 1692 chooses to eschew the traditional view of the trials, by concentrating on the stories of individual women, wisely, as any play directly covering ground tread on in The Crucible is doomed largely to failure. The only problem with this method is that, in the 45 minutes allotted to the production, it is almost impossible to get a feel for any of the characters wholly as individuals while their grim stories move past. The frank and sombre tone which is a stalwart of Livewire's productions is ever-present, and in the dark and gloomy horror of the witch hunts it feels pervasive and unrelentingly bleak, especially the chilling use of period singsong as a recurrant motif, which only goes to emphasise the horror of these events as children point fingers at adults, not fully grasping the results of their actions.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan