Bury The Hatchet Review
~ a guest review by Susy Brett
A new musical based on the life of the infamous Lizzie Borden, Bury the Hatchet, runs at The Hope Theatre until August 11.
On August 4th, 1982, Andrew and Abby Borden were found murdered at their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. Their daughter Lizzie became the prime suspect. Despite evidence to link Lizzie to the crime, she was acquitted of the double murder and allowed to live the rest of her days as a free woman in Fall River. The murders of her father and stepmother were never solved.
Bury the Hatchet is an exceptionally well-executed drama. It chooses an infamous topic and creates a clever, folksy musical from the evidence. Every word, every lighting change and every sound effect makes an impact, as the show finds a unique and quirky voice. Energetic performances from the talented Sasha Wilson, Joseph Prowen and David Leopold complete what is a compelling evening of theatre.
The show’s success lies in the fact Bury the Hatchet makes it clear from the off that these are performers telling the story of Lizzie. The actors constantly break character, argue over the best way to tell the story and even throw personal jibes at each other. This is not the first show to use this narrative device I have seen, though it is one of the most effective.
The synergy between Wilson, Prowen and Leopold is perfect. They rarely miss a beat, continuing the show at a good and seemingly effortless pace. Musically, they are wonderful in tune with one another, delivering some beautiful harmonies. They each give their all in their performances, which was extremely impressive on a press night that might as well have taken place inside a sauna.
It must be said that London was atrociously hot on press night and the Hope Theatre may have been the hottest place to be in London. While the audience were a blur of fans, Bury the Hatchet’s performers valiantly compromised none of their performance despite the heat and their period costuming. It was so hot it was honestly a testament to their abilities and the strength of the show that I was able to thoroughly enjoy it.
Bury the Hatchet is a brilliant demonstration of how history can and should be adapted for theatre. It is surprisingly faithful to the facts, without compromising drama or humour. It offers multiple explanations for the course of events in 1982, points out any of its own inconsistencies and evaluates external influences that undoubtedly had bearing on Lizzie’s trial. Not only is Bury the Hatchet tremendously fun to watch, I came out of watching it feeling like I had learnt something.
There are a couple of minor problems that could be ironed out. Bury the Hatchet does feel less concise in its latter moments. The importance of one character is emphasised without follow-through. That said, I was very impressed by the overall standard of the show. It achieved what it set out to do, and, as a history graduate, I sincerely hope the creative team behind Bury the Hatchet continue to work on history-based productions. This was one of the best and most self-aware I have seen.
For more info on Bury The Hatchet click here.
~ a guest review by Susy Brett