We’ve become quite familiar with the sentiment: You have to laugh because otherwise you’d be crying. Between the last presidency and the current pandemic we are all at our wit’s end. Ironically wit is what has been keeping many of us alive. Playwright Jen Silverman’s Witch is a masterful work taking the audience on a familiar but unexpected (for the most part) journey. The laughs were plentiful but a serious undertone had us nodding in acknowledgment. Okay fine, I also had to hold back tears as we applauded because we had just been ever so gently smacked in the face with some pretty dark truths.
In a nutshell it is a pair of feuding brothers, a kind but misguided widowed father, a love rhombus (triangle doesn’t quite capture the many facets of this one), a quick witted woman #notawitch, and a devil giving major Shark Tank (the wheeling and dealing business reality tv show) energy all trying to figure out the answers to life. Well, some were smart enough to focus on the question more than the answer.
Lyndsay Allyn Cox has you in the palm of her hand from the first look she tosses out to the audience. The character Elizabeth is a strong lonely one, but how Cox plays her is so refined that you find yourself wishing she were your bff. Nothing in the production is overdone even though some of the characters are larger than life- mostly the men, but that’s by design no doubt. Michael Underhill’s Scratch keeps the play moving along with humor as he develops the plot and his own introspection.
The love rhombus is a; she loves him, he loves her, he loves him kind of thing and Nick Sulfaro as Cuddy, Gina Fonseco as Winnifred, and Javier David Padilla as Frank delicately dance their way through this love-ish story. There is tragedy wrapped in comedy in every scene from a father who doesn’t quite know how to support the son he can’t totally relate to, to the individual characters finding ways to sell their souls to the devil. We, the audience, laugh at the circumstances these funny characters find themselves in and, as the laughter peters out and our cheeks relax dropping our smiles, we begin to uncomfortably wonder what would I do?
Witch presents you with many truths about the human condition and the society White men built. Somehow it leaves you feeling lighter about some really heavy truths. I think it is because of the talent of the playwright Jen Silverman in conjunction with director Rebecca Bradshaw, and the cast that brought this show to light. We laughed more than we have in a long time, and yet there’s a split second of giant emptiness when the lights go dark before we, the audience, burst into applause and the cast appears for their curtain call.
I can’t write about this play without also mentioning the incredible set. It was beautiful and simple with just enough opulent details. Just like the play itself, which is beautiful and simple with just enough details.
Witch is The Huntington’s second production of its 40th anniversary season, this dark comedy by Jen Silverman, directed by Rebecca Bradshaw, runs from October 15 to November 14, 2021 at The Huntington’s Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Running time of the show is 90 minutes with no intermission. You can find more information for tickets here.
I received press tickets to opening night with my mom and we both loved the play. I think my teen children would also love the show. I would take children middle school aged and older to see the performance. I highly recommend Witch and hope to go again with my teens.