Friday, 14 October 2016

Review: Wytch at Newcastle Castle Keep

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Great Drama At The Castle 

Newcastle Castle Keep
Until Monday 31st October 2016

Fresh from writing the recent Northern Stage production Season Ticket Lee Mattinson pens a drama about the Newcastle witch trials. Adding to the sense of drama is the location: the castle was used to imprison the accused before their trial and eventual execution. Corinne Kilvington directs a great cast through a thought provoking tale for Twenty Seven Productions.

It is hard to believe that there was a craze for witch-finding between 1649 and 1650. Self-appointed men would call women witches in order to explain simple issues such as the death of livestock. Wytch opens with 2 sisters and their children discussing the latest women that had been dragged away to trial for being possessed by Satan. Simply having a stain on the floor that couldn’t be lifted, or a husband going bald, was enough for the lady of the house to be dragged by their hair to prison.

Photo: Steve Brock
The trouble is if your husband has recently died then tongues will wag and if your son has a pet then you will attract attention from the witch finders. The story has its light, humorous side, but it is also shocking. The 17th century legal process enjoyed show trials and public executions.  They didn’t care about the age of the victims or their religious convictions. Something much more sinister was afoot.

Photo: Steve Brock
In the grand setting of the Castle the show had an authentic feel. The acoustics of the room were used for Natasha Haws’s angelic singing voice. The multi level room was also used occasionally to great effect.  The cast work well to capture the absurdity of the situation. William Wyn Davies is the happy, carefree 10 year old and Charlie Raine is the fragile, sickly teen. Dale Jewiitt is the ring master who loves the spectacle of the trial. Samantha Bell is the cautious relative to Natasha’s bold assessment of the latest village gossip. Together they work well in this character driven show.

Photo: Steve Brock
It is an unheated venue and hence wrapping up warm and buying a hot cuppa from the lovely castle staff does come recommended.

It is a fascinating, well acted, tale, made more absorbing by its location and its part in the tale. The after-hours event shows how the venue can be much more than bricks and mortar for the tourists to visit during the day. 

Photo: Steve Brock
Samantha Bell – Elianor
William Wyn Davies - Matthew
Natasha Haws - Kath
Dale Jewitt – Witch Finder
Charlie Raine – Alice

Photo: Steve Brock
Lee Mattinson – writer
Corinne Kilvington – director
Katie Gibson - producer

Review by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide. Follow Stephen on Twitter at


Wytch runs from Friday 14th October until Monday  31st October 2016 at 7:30pm (with no shows on the 16th, 20th, 22nd, 29th and 30th)

Tickets are £15, with £12.50 concessions and go on sale on the 5th September at 7pm.

See  to purchase, or for videos, links and more information.

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