Vinegar Tom

Date 16th July 2015
Society Stevenage Lytton Players
Venue The Lytton Theatre
Type of Production play
Director Aaron Govey
Musical Director Derek Blyth


Author: Vicki Avery

Set in 17th century England, the signs of witchcraft blight the land. Cattle are dying, butter won't churn and the infidelities of men cause their private to wither. Who's to blame? The woman of course - the young unmarried mother, the beggar woman, the wise crone, the women that no man loves nor wants. This black comedy for the modern age set minds ticking over and the realization that you only have to be accused, for others to believe.

The cast worked well as a team and supported each other throughout the performance.

It was good to see some of the older, more experienced members of the society working with young actresses who have come up through the junior section and are now expanding their craft and taking on leading acting roles. What better way to develop theatre skills?

Costumes, though plain, worked perfectly and did not distract from the dialogue.

Makeup was appropriate and a creditable attempt was made at ageing Alex Hancock as Jack. This was an intelligent interpretation of the character from a young actor who is always 100% aware of his audience, giving them time to process the dialogue before moving on.

Alice Smithson (Alice), Jess Kotthammer (Susan) and Sally Hobbs (Joan) fed off each other perfectly and the tension between them grew at a subtle pace so that one almost did not notice until it was too late.

Tom Blight (Packer) demonstrated confidence and command of the stage and was perfectly cast.

The more intimate aspects of the play were very well executed and although there was a definite feeling of uneasiness from the audience with the blood letting and the abortion, never the less the scenes worked well and gave us all the visual clues we needed without be offensive.

The music, under the direction of Derek Blyth was hard hitting and at times discordant but perfectly suited to this production and the use of the accordion, at times harsh and abrasive underpinned the stark reality of the story. That once accused of being a witch it was just a matter of time before everyone believed it.

My one concern was that all too often lines were lost, either by poor projection or the delivery not paced. Your cast may know their lines but the audience do not and here lies the problem. Being a director is a big responsibility, everything rests on your shoulders and if the audience cannot hear or understand the dialogue then their attention will wander elsewhere and you have lost them. This was an ambitious project for young director Aaron Govey but hopefully he will have learnt lessons and accepted advice with good grace so that his next production will benefit.