Witch? Women on Trial
The Lost Close
The humble common or garden Witch has had a pretty hard time of it over the generations. As Natalie Nardone is keen to explain, witchcraft as we imagine it, is mostly nonsense. But the roots of Scottish witchcraft and folklore are set in paganistic practices, from which the concept of the wheat goddess, the Cailleach or Great Hag, was a standing principle. One which led to the cultural importance and social respect for any wise old woman or Carlin.
It’s after a sinister and loud entrance that Nardone bursts upon the stage, only to then relax out of character and sit jovially chatting about Witches, Charmers with the comfortable cadences of a favoured aunt. Throughout the hour, this spoken word piece details the roots of haxanic myth, through to the horrors of the Reformation and the various, bloody and terrifying purges of witchcraft from Britain.
It’s certainly an educational hour, sat in the moody and cavernous, if somewhat modernised, and fairly comfortable bowels of The Lost Close. That said, the piece does have something of a messy and scatterbrained approach to the structure; as Nardone cheerfully warns, she has a tendency to go off on tangents. It’s certainly not a lecture, and at one stage even led to a group belly-dancing practice, leading to giggles all round.
It’s a performance in need of a little structure and polish, but isn’t bad despite that. Nardone has an undeniable charisma and versatility, with a true penchant for acting that would have been welcome to have been sprinkled more liberally throughout. Her haunting performance as an elderly and much-abused woman accused of various devilries comes on as suddenly as it is shocking.
But despite quibbles, it’s as good a way as any to learn some of the dark and shameful history of Scottish witchcraft.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan