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Vinegar Tom: The Devil Within

23 Sep

Finally got down to the Ritz to see Frank Theater‘s production of Vinegar Tom, a mid-1970’s play by British playwright Caryl Churchill. We were there on an auspicious night, too. As we sat in the audience, across the river Frank Artistic Director Wendy Knox received an Ivey Award for directing The Pillowman, last season’s moving, grotesque triumph at the Guthrie Dowling Studio.

Vinegar Tom is another biting, engaging romp that Knox and her troupe of Brecht-loving thespians revel in. This work ostensibly deals with the story of women accused of being witches, but through Churchill’s pen and Knox’s directing becomes a still prescient feminist critique. And yes, given the recent political climate, it is still a vigorous issue for exploration.

Starting with a sex scene and unraveling from there, banter turns to squashed desire and anger becomes suspicion, faith becomes a tool, and the whole dehumanizing thing sets itself in motion. You don’t need inventions and fantasy here, most of this stuff is straight history, but with appropriate and effective theatrical punctuation. Frank is a company from whom I have come to expect engaging performances, but it should not go without saying that the company turns in a great show, especially Lori Neal as the Cunning Woman, a healer whose hope for a positive view of her work is undercut by the reality of the play. Complete with modern songs, direct address to the audience and a final scene twist whose image is jarring but whose scene that had me laughing and biting my lip, it’s a heady ride, and something to think about before the accusations fly.

Adult Ticket Prices: $25 on Friday and Saturdays, $22 on Thursday and Sundays

Students, Seniors, Groups of 10+: $23 on Friday and Saturdays, $20 on Thursday and Sundays

Performances Dates:
Showing for four weekends September 12-October 5

Go to the Ritz Theater ( website for more information.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Metamorphosis | Cake In 15 - April 28, 2010

    […] needed. Frank Theatre always manages to pull great talent (Shows like Mother Courage, Pillowman and Vinegar Tom come especially to mind) and Metamorphosis is a thrilling and intimate piece of ensemble acting and […]

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