Witch Hunt, Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Witch Hunt at Traverse Theatre
Show details
A & E Comedy
Cal McCrystal (director), Abigail Dooley (writer), Emma Edwards (writer), Holly Murray (costumes
Abigail Dooley, Emma Edwards
Running time

We don't generally expect to see women of a "certain age" on stage mimicking a self-induced orgasm, turning into a sex-bot, and performing nude. Still, Emma Edwards and Abigail Dooley's Witch Hunt are breaking down that barrier and leaving their audience in stitches at the same time. 

The show was born at the Fringe Festival and holds all the key elements - avant garde and not afraid of the shock-factor.

Through a series of vignettes tied together by a fairytale/witch/feminist theme, the audience was treated to some of the most off-the-cuff, slapstick, and "did-she-really-just-say/do-that" humor. The main takeaway of the show is about how the world treats women, particularly those over 50 and taking back that power and sexuality.

In the beginning of the show, there's a line asking what a witch hunt is- is it the witches who are being hunted or is it them who do the hunting. 

The show starts off strong - two old hags, one with gigantic hands and the other with miniatures, are breaking the fourth wall and arguing in the forrest about how, despite being two of them, it is really a "one-woman show with a twist". They open a larger-than-life storybook and begin the first chapter, entitled "The Woods", hilariously re-enacting the story of Hansel and Gretel.

Over the next 50 minutes, while the comedy stays top-notch, the story gets a little muddled. Little Red Riding Hood makes an appearance, steals a potion to make her the "perfect woman", and turns into a sex bot. The Big Bad Wolf doesn't try to eat grandma but instead hits on audience members, with each joke becoming cruder and cruder. Nothing is off limits in this show - the wolf tells the audience he likes his women like his whiskey, 12 years old. 

While I laughed at the jokes and cringed the way that Edwards and Dooley intended, I felt like I was quite literally losing the plot.

Frustratingly, more than once, it felt like they were near the point of perfection but missed it by the slightest mark. A perfect example is the song, "Welcome to the Shit Show", in the spirit of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire", about all the many things wrong in this world.

Stylistically it was comedic gold. They stood in front of a black background and wearing black capes from the neck down with nude puppets - one old and sagging and the other with giant, perky breasts and some impressive vajazzling- attached to their torsos.

The song was catchy and clever, and the audience eagerly participated, but by the fourth verse, it had lost its sparkle, and I found myself eagerly awaiting the next scene to begin. 

Despite some low moments in the middle, they ended as strong as they started using an actual magic trick and an incredible costume change.

Even with some of the weak points, Witch Hunt is a fantastic show that anyone with a strong stomach for crude humour would love.