Witch Shtick

KISSING THE WITCH by Emma Donoghue, directed by Ellen-Ray Hennessy, with Elizabeth Dalgleish, Mackenzie Muldoon and Rahnuma Panthaky. Presented by.


KISSING THE WITCH by Emma Donoghue, directed by Ellen-Ray Hennessy, with Elizabeth Dalgleish, Mackenzie Muldoon and Rahnuma Panthaky. Presented by Wicked Women Co-op at Tallulah’s Cabaret (12 Alexander). Runs to March 31, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $10-$15, Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555. Rating: NN Rating: NN

which witches are true sisters — the ones Emma Donoghue tried to write or those created in this production of Donoghue’s Kissing The Witch? It must be the former.The piece weaves together five fairy tales, a cauldronful of stories we know — Cinderella, Beauty And The Beast, The Little Mermaid — blended with a contemporary sensibility. Donoghue’s writing has an epigrammatic and often ironic elegance, and once the three performers — Elizabeth Dalgleish, Mackenzie Muldoon and Rahnuma Panthaky — settle into the meat of the material, the talented actors tell it well.

But too often they and director Ellen-Ray Hennessy seem to distrust the material, punching it up with distracting asides that dissipate the force of the writing. Why does the word “people” cause someone to warble a line from Funny Girl, or a reference to the people in the village inspire a disco-derivative and raucous warbling of YMCA? Don’t need them, thanks.

Donoghue’s exploration of what makes a witch has its own power, not least in the show’s sexual undertones. There’s plenty of sly whimsy, too — the three actors wear striped stockings, like the Wicked Witch of the East in The Wizard Of Oz — and Angela Thomas’s costumes of feathers, twigs and pussy willows are endlessly inventive. But in many of the staging choices, less would be better. jonkap@nowtoronto.com

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