As Halloween approaches and the chill of winter starts creeping in, a play about witchcraft and torture seemed fitting as I made the perilous walk via Cornmarket St towards the Burton Taylor Studio.
Except the play isn’t really about witchcraft at all, although that is what the titular character Maria (Evie Ioannidi) is accused of. Instead it’s more of a tense, psychological battle between an innocent woman and a nasty interrogator (Andrew Dickinson) with a whip and thumb-twister in his hands. Throw in a love triangle and a few lies about Maria eating dead babies in her spare time, and you’ve got one heck of a party.
Joking aside, the acting from the cast really brought the play together. The multiple tensions between each character really put you on edge, with Maria’s struggle with the superstition around her at the centre of the play. The second half of the play in particular is tense to watch, as Maria’s marriage to Thomas (Jordan Reed) is put under strain by her four-year long absence. At times the clumsy dialogue can be slightly off-putting when there’s a pretty taut moment onstage, and Dickinson veers dangerously into Bond-villain territory. However, the production’s use of sound and lighting created enough drama to draw more than a few gasps from the audience (including myself, embarrassingly).
With the clocks gone back to give you an extra hour to spare in your hectic Oxford lifestyle, £5 is a worthy investment to see The Death of Maria. If you fancy some historical drama that stays with you even as your mind is spent swerving away from the cyclists on your trek back to college, this play is definitely for you.
The Death of Maria is showing at the Burton Taylor Studio at 7.30pm until Saturday 2nd November. More information and tickets are available here.
PHOTO/ Salem Witch Trials, Wikipedia Commons