Review: Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her!, VAULT Festival

Witch please! Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her! is some comedy that makes you think at the VAULT Festival

“Write a funny story about witches they said…”

Pass it round, Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her! An innocuous schoolyard taunt serves as the starting point for a veritable odyssey of discovery for Morgan as she seeks to reclaim the word from its long and troubled history. And as we find out, it is a history that is as often appalling as it is surprising, though accompanied by her new husband Tom Moores (in a fetching black catsuit, natch) and some hefty vocal power, it’s an entirely engaging journey. 

In some ways, the show serves as an interesting companion piece to Call Me Fury seen earlier at this year’s VAULT Festival, also seeking to reappraise societal interpretations of witchcraft with a musical twist. Morgan’s comic grounding clearly directs the show in a different direction but there’s still something so compelling about looking at the many ways the patriarchy has abused the term in order to maintain the status quo. 

Together with director Lisa Millar, Morgan balances the revelations of her research with a finely tuned strand of comic observation. Employing Moores as her stooge/sidekick/spouse is a neat touch here, always ready with a quick quip or impersonation (I don’t know why Shakespeare as a Brummie was quite so funny but I thought it was inspired). And the musical interlude prove an eloquent addition to the script, especially with Morgan’s gift for mimicry.

But it is the probing into the centuries-long double standard that lingers most in the mind. Merlin is dead to me now, Arthur Miller’s on the list, as is the Scottish Parliament (justice for Helen Duncan) – you can’t help but be shocked at some of the facts Morgan hits us with here, along with some truly disturbing wax figures. This is comedy that makes you think. As such, the finale then comes as a palate-cleanser that isn’t necessarily needed, as impressive as Morgan’s diva impersonations are, she could afford us more time to ruminate on the work she has just delivered.     

Running time: 1 hour (without interval)
Holly Morgan: Is A Witch, Get Her! is booking at the VAULT Festival until 3rd March

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