'Tis pity she's a witch

The Witches Tripytch

By Lillian Ann Slugocki
Directed by Erica Gould
Idle Hands Theatre Co.
Wings Theatre
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Andrés J. Wrath

Lillian Ann Slugocki's haunting, disturbing, and brilliantly executed Witches Tripytch is the much-sought-out play in a slim and barren season. With its cries that are more howls of anguish it may be the best of the season; it is definitely among the most theatrical. In it, there are not one trial but three, and the linking factor is, yes, these women are put on trial as witches, but more accurately as women. Without sacrificing period, Slugocki's docuplay examines these three trials from a modern slant (misogyny) giving the three segments an immediacy that plunges deep into its subject matter with no-holds-barred, relentless energy-and what she finds is truly horrifying.

In Part One, entitled The Witchfinder General Comes to Town, Mary Mules (Gretchen Lee Krich) is caught up in a dilemma: all the women in Suffolk, England during 1645 are accused of witchcraft. Most of the women confess, but she refuses. Before the end of the segment, all the women are destroyed, and the witchfinders leave satisfied that there are no more witches. In Part Two, A Salem Purgatorio, Slugocki reexamines the Salem trials from a few perspectives: the accused Bridget Bishop (Dee Pelletier) and Rebecca Nurse (Gretchen Lee Krich) but also accuser Anne Putnam (Lisa Levy), who many years later is guilt-stricken by the trials. In part three, The Trial of Agnes Gaudry, Agnes (Dee Pelletier) writes her daughter Veronica about her tortures of being an accused witch during the trials of Bamberg, Germany in 1628. Meanwhile Father Joseph (Dennis Fox) battles with his delusions about Cassandra Cassarin (Christen Clifford), whom he lusts for and then condemns as a witch.

The directing by Erica Gould was full-bodied. Gould moved the actors like notes in a musical composition. Never did her staging become merely staging; it moved, it flowed, it haunted. The sensational acting from the cast, which included John Daggett, Annie McAdams, Mark Leydorf, Joshua Dean Gordon, David Bennett, Bradley Goodwill, Joshua Dean Gordon, and Mark Leydorf were electrifying. Further, not enough praise and compliments can be said about Krich, Pelletier, Levy, Fox and Clifford's work as the condemned and the accusers. Simply, powerful acting all around from the ensemble.

Production-wise the play benefited from the sparseness of Molly Hughes's set, consisting of gray pillars and boxes of brown, which gave the actor ample room to go in and out and gave the play an eerie coldness. The costumes, by Meghan E. Healey, couldn't have been better: the witches wore white, while everyone else dressed in darker colors. The lighting, by David Lander, was a standout, matched only by Bryan Scott Clark's haunting score.

This was one of Wings' Play Partnership series; bravo to the always-brave Jeffery Corrick for bringing this gem by Idle Hands to the New York stage.

Box Score:

Writing: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Set: 2

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2000 Andrés J. Wrath