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Brookland Artspace Lofts Studio at Dance Place
Remaining performances (tickets available here):
Sunday, July 19 at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 21 at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, July 23 at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at 3:45 p.m.
They say: When an enchanted princess is awakened by a coven of witches, she is confronted with Medieval Story Land’s darkest secret, and a ghost from her own past. Sleeping Beauty meets Hocus Pocus in this fractured fairy tale.
Caroline’s take: Audiences will likely never tire of fairy tales, even if they can count on a relatively basic plot involving reunited lovers, some form of magic, and an inevitable happy ending. So while Red Knight Productions’ Witches doesn’t advance any social causes or comment on history the way other Fringe shows do, it makes for an entertaining and humorous evening.
Existing in the same universe as the company’s previous plays The Ballad of the Red Night and Medieval Story Land, the play revolves around Fanglett (Katie Courlander), a young woman who, Sleeping Beauty-like, is found taking an enchanted nap in the forest by a pair of witches, Beatrice (Kathryn Browning) and Gragloria (Mary Agnes Shearon). They awaken her and, with the help of another witch, the Mother of Mothers (Renata Plecha), intend to turn Flanglett into a witch. After hearing about the elaborate process, Fanglett naturally expresses reservations and what follows is a tale of memories lost and gained, familial love, and, of course, the triumph of good over evil. When her beloved Red Knight (Christopher Herring) and his loyal jester (Stephen Mead) show up to rescue her, the production hits its manic heights.
In the intimate studio, space is at a minimum, so the majority of props are abandoned and the actors and audience just pretend to drink out of tiny cups or draw out potions from the cauldron. A few of the gestures and performances feel overly done—grimaces and yawns don’t need to be this big in a studio that seats 50—but when the entire cast is on stage together, their energy fills the room. This is due, in large part, to Casey Kaleba‘s fight choreography, which adds to the play’s zaniness and looks completely natural.
Director Scott Courlander peppers his script with puns that receive mild chuckles. The only exception is a groan-worthy joke about the electoral college, which somehow still exists in Medieval Story Land. (A note to all Fringe participants: Just because you’re performing in the capital city, please don’t feel obligated to insert hokey political jabs where they don’t fit.) Despite carrying a run time of 100 minutes, the play progresses quickly, just like those animated fairy tale flicks you watched as a wee one. Sit back and giggle at something a production that has no greater stakes than whether or not the audience is entertained.
See it if: You’re fascinated by trolls, bats, and strapping dudes in capes.
Skip it if: You think people narrating their actions interrupts the flow of a show.
Photo courtesy of Red Knight Productions