Bury the Hatchet is a strong debut production from a fledgling theatre company. It certainly has a narrative that is interesting. There is lightness, comedy and music to please all.
Lizzie Borden took an ax…
Apparently not! It was a hatchet. This and other fabulous facts are revealed in this finely crafted piece of theatre: Bury the Hatchet enjoyed a short season at Kings Head Theatre as part of the theatres current #Festival47.
From the title and the photo images, it could be expected that a gruesome and horrifying tale is about to be told. Bury the Hatchet certainly has a narrative that is all that, but in a setting and playing style wherein there is lightness, comedy and music. This combination adds up to an entertaining and enlightening night at the theatre.
Out of the Forest Theatre is a very newly formed production company and this is their debut production. Their aim is to blend music, movement and storytelling to shine a light on the weird and bizarre. Sasha Wilson is the writer and also features in the cast. Wilson sets the tone of the piece from the start as she engages with the audience.
A highlight of Bury the Hatchet is the beautifully performed musical element. The show is liberally sprinkled with prairie bluegrass music. Sam Jenkins-Shaw plays guitar, Joseph Prowen the violin and Wilson most often takes the vocal lead. The best though is when the trio sing in tight harmony. They could easily please an audience with a full concert program of their music alone.
The ensemble cast plays a range of characters to uncover the layers of mystery and myth surrounding the killing of Andrew and Abby Borden. Wilson mostly plays the main protagonist, Lizzie Borden. The narrative is told in a series of lively vignettes linked with an amusing commentary. The meat of the narrative is strong enough to stand alone however and some of the comic narration looks to be inserted gratuitously and adds little to advance the story.
Jenkins-Shaw shows himself to be a skilled and versatile performer. Beyond his musical talent he plays numerous characters and has a strong stage presence throughout. In contrast to this bastion of power is Joseph Prowen who is a bundle of energy and the jester of the ensemble. He plays many characters with gusto including the maid and a delightful caricature of the foreman of the jury.
Bury the Hatchet played as part of #Festival47 and so, in true festival style, production values were minimalistic. Costuming carries the bulk of design and evokes the period and location of the story well. Lighting design by Gregory Jordan is simple with a special effect adding dimension to the scene of the crime.
Asia Osborne as director has produced a tight ensemble feel that only occasionally descends into buffoonery.
Bury the Hatchet is a strong first production for the fledgling company and bodes well for the future of the piece itself as well as for the company.