“REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ORDINARY JOBS. That is why they are so hard to catch.” – Roald Dahl, The Witches
One might assume the subject of witches on a mission to rid the world of children might be one best avoided by children, lest it keeps them awake at night, wondering if their own mother could be one of those ‘ordinary women’.
But it seems no matter how dastardly and devilish the themes of Roald Dahl’s stories, audiences can’t get enough of snot goblins and muggle-wumps.
It was a full house for the opening night of The Witches at the Koorliny Arts Centre on Friday night, on the back of the recent worldwide success of both Matilda the Musical and the film adaptation of The BFG.
Seasoned actress Suzannah Churchman plays Boy’s grandmother, drawing viewers into the opening scenes with ease. Churchman’s real life son Jack plays Boy, and although first-night nerves were evident, his confidence is sure to develop as the run continues.
The cast of cackling witches brings colour and humour to the stage, as they shuffle in their pack towards the Grand High Witch. Hillary Readings gives a commanding performance as their wicked leader, and a notable mention goes to Rudi Palmela, who convincingly plays a spoilt brat who gets his just desserts.
The ensemble works well together, as does the set design, with slick set changes. A quirky handpicked soundtrack ups the amusement factor.
As one would expect of children’s theatre, there is a good measure of slapstick humour and pantomime melodrama; both perfect ingredients for young audiences.
This is community theatre at its best. I am yet to see a show I haven’t enjoyed at Koorliny. High praise goes to the cast and crew, under the direction of Ryan Taafe, for delivering an evening of wholesome entertainment.
I took my five-year-old daughter to this performance, and she loved it. She talked about it all the way home and now we are reading the novel at bedtime. What a wonderful way to introduce children to literature.
Dahl passed almost 30 years ago, but his posthumous popularity is at an all-time high. There seems to be an insatiable appetite for this Roald revival.
The Witches is suitable for ages 6+ with a running time of approximately 90 minutes (with interval), a perfect duration for a young person’s attention span.
The show runs 19, 20, 26 and 27 May at 7.30pm and 20, 21 and 27 May at 2pm.
Tickets $25 standard, $23 concession, and $18 children. For more information visit www.koorliny.com.au or call the box office on 9467 7118.