Three women all facing miscarriages of justice in their own times form the basis of this play which formed part of Edinburgh’s Horror Festival last year: Agnes Sampson, burned at the stake for being a ‘witch’, Jessie King, the last woman to be hung in Edinburgh and Violet Foster, a young mother facing abuse in her own home.
It is an intense journey through rape, hanging, suggestions of witchcraft, prostitution, murder, abuse and suicide but with only 45 minutes to portray all of this horror the stories become tangled and confused and the threads of the individual stories lost. Unfortunately for the performers: Gillian Bain, Megan Travers and Maegan Hearons, their words too are often lost, partly because of the shape of the room with seating on three sides and partly because the music, oftentimes out of place, overpowers their voices which need far greater projection.
It is an uncomfortable show to watch, which, granted, is part of the horror experience in terms of the challenging subject matter, but it is not helped by weak choreography, dancing and singing. With close to 3,500 shows to choose from across Edinburgh in August, companies and performers are competing for crowds and there are theatre companies who are utilising the skills of their performers better.
The ideas and the subject matter are important, intriguing and worth exploring and the individual stories could each be used to create a play in their own right. The actresses stay in character throughout, commendable amongst the plentiful screaming and continuous transitions but it all needs more clarity, more thought and more consideration of how best to achieve its aims.