CALL ME FURY at London's Hope Theatre, Islington
The Cast of 'Cry Me Fury'  Olivia Kennett, Sasha Wilson, Mairi Hawthorn and Gracie Lai   photo: David Spence

Sasha Wilson with Out of the Forest Theatre and Hannah Hauer-King has brought to Islington's Hope Theatre the stunning Call Me Fury. Taking her inspiration from Miller's 'The Crucilble' and the Salem witch trials of the 17th century and using folk songs and back stories of the women featured, the all female ensemble gives voice to the atrocities of this piece of history and of others that befell some 50 000 women (and their families) tried and executed for the alleged crime of witchcraft.

Amongst those portrayed are the familiar figures of Tituba, a Central American slave who worked on the plantation of religious minister Samuel Parris before being taken to Salem where she was imprisoned for the crime of witchcraft; Catrina badly beaten and raped in prison allegedly by the devil and not the gaoler who smirked beside her; Abigail Williams, immature and frightened and prey to the hysteria and Sarah Good, maligned and despised. These are but four of the names in this strongly voiced play. Presented through monologue and supported by violin and song, we experience their helplessness and fear and are witness to their persecution, their trials, their deaths. Heavy stuff indeed! Wilson has accounted for this and relieves the awfulness through light hearted asides which shield strong messages beneath the banter.
 
These were ordinary women whose lives spiraled out of control, mainly due to fear, coercion, manipulation, superstition, freezing climate and hunger. Controlled through their physical weakness and dependence on their menfolk, their voices were silent, unheard, unless they articulated what those who controlled them wished to hear.

Devised and played by Mairi Hawthorn, Gracie Lai, Olivia Kennett and writer Sasha Wilson, the injustices are exposed. Whereas Miller gave prominence to the roles of men in his play, Wilson pays homage to the women. Here in this small, intimate studio space we hear their words and witness their terror. Helpless against their menfolk, they lost the will to fight. But we are urged by Wilson to take up their cause and fight the oppression that exists even today and to demand an equal place in society with men.
 
David Spence's set is fitting to the tone and time, with its stark wooden cross taking a prominent place on the stage. Covered in autumnal leaves and surrounded by bales of hay, this staging is in sharp contrast to Helen Stewart's pilgrim costuming of black and grey. Mother Nature has a voice here. In the cold of the harsh winter she is cruel but her autumn colours inject new life. With the crying of the violin and the sight of three women on stage, heads hanging awkwardly as if in death,the scene is set.

We might wonder why those women did not fight more. Why dd they submit? The message was clear. When weak through hunger, terrified of those around you, cold beyond bearing, then resolve is lost.Call Me Fury is a stimulating production that maintains a strong heartbeat throughout its 80 minutes and whose messages stay with you long after the evening ends.
 

Listings

Dates: 17 September - 5 October 2019
Times: Tues - Sat 7.45 pm
Telephone: 0333 666 3366 or directly online  https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/thehopetheatre/call-me-fury/e-dayjyr
Under 18s not allowed at this venue
Running time: 80 minutes with no interval