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Akbar Shakoor

Play Critique
Introduction to Theatre Arts- Waylon Lenk
Witchcraft by Joanna Baillie at the Airmid Theatre
Airmid Theatre is different from others in that it specializes in
plays written by women dramatists. I was very pleased to learn this
since historically most playwrights are male. Witchcraft takes place in
1734 in Renfreshire, Scotland, during a time at which it was very easy
to accuse women of witchcraft and black magic and have them
burned at the stake as a result.
Upon entering the room I was a little disappointed. I had basically
walked into an old classroom without a stage to perform on. It was a
found space. There was no scenery or lighting except for the
fluorescent lights in the ceiling of the classroom. There was no sound
either, which was rather disappointing; they could have at least used a
laptop or speakers to help set the mood of the play. There was a
narrator that read out loud the names of the acts, parts and the
intermission. He also read out loud what the scenery would be like.
Costumes were very limited; the actors and actresses were in semiappropriate attire, and I say this because some of the actors were in
business-casual attire the duration of the play. They did, however, use
some props to signify role change since the actors and actresses were
portraying multiple characters in the play; for example, one actress
played both Lady Dungarren (a main character) and Grizeld Bane (a

witch) and showed this transformation by wearing a very large scarf


when she played the witch. It did help the audience know who was
speaking, though.
Although there was a lack of a stage, scenery, lighting and a lack
of good costumes what was impressive was the acting itself. The
characters were superb in their portrayal of Scottish folk from the
olden times. They were wonderful at demonstrating strong Scottish
accents. If I had met one of the characters in daily life and they spoke
with their Scottish accent I would actually believe that they were from
Renfreshire. Ellen Distasis portrayal of the witch was outstanding; she
spoke with much clarity and the facial expressions she used gave me
the creeps, which I thoroughly appreciated. Her acting reminded me of
what I think the witches in Macbeth would have sounded and acted
like. Still though, it was a little difficult to understand what was being
said at times, because the play itself was written in the early 1800s
and people spoke and wrote prose differently back then. I feel like
there was excess verbiage but I suppose the play would not be the
same without it.
Although I was initially disappointed with the setup of the play
the acting itself was very good and made up for all the other
shortcomings. The actors and actresses seemed to love what they
were doing and it helped them depict their characters better and
definitely I felt that, and in my opinion that is the most impressive

aspect of this play. I would not recommend this play at Airmid Theatre
for a novice theatre-goer who is more likely to notice a pretty
background or lighting effects, which I feel like I am. I would
recommend this play to anyone that truly loves theatre for what it
should be: performers BEING the characters rather than ACTING like
them.