By Mary Collins 1/05/2019
"Vinegar Tom is the title of a 1976 play by the British playwright Caryl Churchill. The play examines gender and power relationships through the lens of 17th-century witchcraft trials in England. The play's title comes from the name of one character's pet cat, supposed to be her familiar spirit, likely inspired by the supposed imp of one Elizabeth Clarke, a woman tried and executed for witchcraft in Essex in 1645. The play was inspired by the Women's Rights Act in 1970 and explored the thought that women were treated unequally to men in England, both at the time in which the play takes place, and the time in which the play was written.”
Co-directed by Heidi Haas and Jonathan Tadres from The Gay Beggars Drama group in Basel, they agreed to recreate a play around the subject matter of “Feminism and Tragedy”. It was a challenge they both gladly excepted.
The play is performed at Schönes Haus, Nadelberg 6, in the theater celler of the English Seminar. A small but well used space where the stage and seats are set on two floors which creates good acoustics and a cosy setting. The layout allows for creative direction, sound and interactions. With the numerous entrance points, the performers can move seamlessly between stages, scenes and audience interaction.
The first scene sets the dramatic and dark nature of the play. I really liked that the actor’s costumes match their 17th century settings and the contrast to the simple costuming but bold makeup of the singers.
The singer's wide eyes and powerful voices balance beautifully with the more reserved body language, which in itself also adds intensity and concentration for the observers. The lighting is perfectly set, emphasising the scenes and actor’s mood and the song interpretation is fantastic, bringing both life and meaning to the script and play itself.
Though every scene is acted well, there are a few that with the combined efforts of lighting, singing and direction leave you tense and breathless, and I left wanting to purchase a copy of the performance as it was such an outstanding interpretation of Vinegar Tom. Congratulations to the actors, musicians, tech team and talented directors of this play.
I 100%recommend you go see Vinegar Tom by the Gay Beggars. Five Stars!
Vinegar Tom plays April 26, 27, 29, 30 and May 4, 5, 7, 10, 11 in the theatre cellar of the English Seminar, Nadelberg 6. Shows start at 8pm, except for Sunday May 5th, which starts at 6pm. Ticket prices are 20.- regular / 15.- student, AHV, IV
Book Now: www.gaybeggars.ch