The Fourth Walsh
Monday, August 25, 2014
Playwright Jeff Goode explores the male corruption by the Puritanical driven witch hunts. The 2013-2014 winner of "Joining Sword & Pen," WITCH SLAP! is the herstory told from the witches' perspectives. Goode's characters represent a wide range of sorceresses: the crone, the gypsy, the vamp, the newbie. He mixes them in with other strong female stereotypes, like; Annie Oakley, Lizzie Borden and Lindsay Lohan-the Goth version.
His cauldron of personalities is a set-up for being spellbound. Under Delia Ford's direction, the actors take on their roles with distinction. Among the standouts, Kimberly Logan (crone) anchors the show with cackling wisdom. The hunchback Logan hilariously stirs the pot with her sage advice and comedy timing. Stefanie Johnsen (Minerva) impressively goes from confident vamp to drooling zombie. Strutting or stumbling, Johnsen nails the physical comedy. In contrast, Jennifer L. Mickelson (Widow) garners laughs from her stoic presence. Despite all the hormonal hexing, Mickelson is unflappable. Loren Jones charms as the high-strung-witch-in training. Jones is this cute combination of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and Aunt Clara from "Bewitched." The entire talented ensemble conjure up funny moments.
The premise of the show is thought-provoking. Men threatened by strong women turn to violence out of insecurity. That truth is woven into a light-hearted romp. Doors fly shut. Books fly off the shelf. Ropes turn into snakes. Throughout the play, I kept thinking how great it would be as a kids' show, especially for girls. I wanted it to be more like the cult-classic movie "Hocus Pocus." Yet, WITCH SLAP! is not for kids. The execution of the show is campy. The irreverent comedy leans heavily on sexual punch lines. That context gets old and loses its zing over the show's duration. The repetitive jokes add to the length.
WITCH SLAP! is a potion needing to simmer more. It either should go more crass and aim to be a late night October treat. Or it could get more family-friendly and become fun children's Halloween theatre. This current witches brew needs more salt or sugar.
Running Time: One hour and forty minutes includes an intermission
At Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark
Written by Jeff Goode
Directed by Delia Ford
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 3:30pm
Thru September 20th
Buy Tickets at www.babeswithblades.org
For more information and reviews on Chicago theatre, visit Theatre in Chicago.