Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 24, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Arts & Lit Review: Hags – a magical extravaganza

Review: Hags – a magical extravaganza

Lauren Walsh and Maddie Conlan share their experience at the Hags stage production.
2 min read
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Plaque commemorating the execution of the Devon Witches (Chris Nye via Wikimedia Commons)

From Exeter based and female-lead theatre company Scratchworks, Hags tells the story of the witches of Bideford. In 1682 three women, Temperance Lloyd, Susannah Edwards, and Mary Trembles, were accused of witchcraft and were the last witches in England to be hanged. The show has just finished its three-day run at the Barnfield Theatre in Exeter and will go on to tour in Poole, then Bristol in the coming weeks. 

A marvellous mix of musical and magic, Hags stars Sian, Alice, and Laura as the three witches amongst many other characters and their glamorous assistant Andy, who played the music that accompanied the show. Alongside great acting, and funny magic tricks, Andy’s music, played live on a variety of instruments from a variety of genres (such as funky synth, relaxing folk music and sexy riffs) really set the mood for the comedic performance.  

We were genuinely impressed by the magic tricks sprinkled throughout, such as mind reading, card swapping and sleight of hand tricks, which will leave you wondering how on earth they did it. Like any good magic show Hags made great use of the admittedly pretty much non-existent fourth wall. They spoke directly to the audience and incorporated them into the tricks and comedic bits of the performance. A standout for us was poor Finley in the back row who didn’t know what he was getting himself into. Excitement built every time the lights came up as it meant more audience participation, such as getting those seated in the front row to act as the jury for the witch trial.  

The cast make everything look so effortless it is easy to forget how much talent is needed to pull off the numerous skills required for a show like this and make it seem so easy: from the live singing and music (lovely harmonising) to the physical comedy to the magic tricks. It was a very impressive display of many wonderful talents.  

While only loosely based on the facts of the aforementioned witch trial, this is a show that does not shy away from the dark side of history, and the atrocities that took place, with female rage taking centre stage towards the end of the show. Sian’s monologue about the trials that modern women go through, from sexual assault to the disregard women have faced in the workplace, was an incredibly powerful and heartfelt message. Hags was the perfect blend of comedy and fact creating a compelling blend of humour and emotion.  

… a show that does not shy away from the dark side of history, and the atrocities that took place, with female rage taking centre stage towards the end of the show.

Balancing out the scenes of laughter are quite sombre moments when the actresses’ talent gets to shine. Hags is perfect for fans of Horrible Histories or the West End show, Magic Goes Wrong with its blend of physical comedy, magic tricks and catchy songs, this fun-filled show had us cackling like witches throughout. 

And if you want to see more theatre at the Northcott, why not try out the Under 26 Members discount, which is free to sign up for and you gain access to exclusive £5 and £10 tickets on selected shows. We highly recommend going to see as many of the Northcott shows as possible as you will not be left disappointed! 

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