The Column Online



by Jen Silverman

Stage West

Elizabeth Sawyer- Lydia Mackay
Scratch- Garret Storms
Cuddy Banks- Evan Michael Woods
Frank Thorney- Bradley Atuba
Sir Arthur Banks - David Lugo
Winnifred-Tatiana Lucia Gantt

Director - Kara-Lynn Vaeni
Production Stage Manager-Kaitlin Hatton
Set Design- Will Turbyne
Lighting Design- Leann Burns
Costume Design- Murell Horton
Sound Design- David Lanza
Props/Set Décor- Lynn Lovett
Fight Choreography- Jeffrey Colangelo
Movement Choreography- Kelsey Milbourn
Assistant Director- Shyama Nithiananda
Technical Director- Bryan Stevenson
Assistant Stage Manager- Flower Avila
Assistant Costume Designer- Hannah Martinez
Associate Technical Director- Conor Clark
Master Carpenter- Allen Dean
Master Electrician- Amanda Hackney

Reviewed Performance: 3/19/2022

Reviewed by Mildred Austin, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

After an unexpected delay due to a bobble backstage, Stage West opened the house opening night, to an incredible evening of theater with WITCH. The author, Jen Silverman, took a play written in 1621 and with a deft pen, brought it forward a bit and shaved it to its main point and just the necessary characters for her version. It now poses some rather current issues about misogyny, sexual identity, war, jealousy and the marginalized and overlooked in society

The author and the characters ask: “What would it take for you to sell your soul to the devil, and if you decided to do it, what would you ask for in return?” That brings up an almost endless supply of “What ifs?”. For most of us, we would demur in the beginning. But consider that Satan appears as a man who is handsome and sexy and persuasive and determined to have someone in the village of Edmonton sign over their soul! Faust wanted eternal life. The play and the actors force me to think. I’m seventy-seven years old. Would I “take one for the team” and sell my soul for the end of wars forever? Would you? What would it take to change your mind? Satan holds out the promise of the characters’ wildest dream within their reach, but at first, there are no takers. Scratch is somewhat mystified but doesn’t retreat and eventually, he must confront his own weakness.

I applaud Stage West’s desire to bring this production forward. I’ve never been disappointed to be an audience member there. Upon entering the house, you are confronted by the set as there is no curtain. The theater has no one set designer for their productions, but they manage to find the best for their shows! The set for WITCH is no exception. The “trees” are absolutely mesmerizing and with barren branches manage to create a somewhat gloomy look as the play begins. Will Turbyne and Lynn Lovett and helpers for that incredible set with three settings as called for and, again, those trees!

Lydia Mackay as the witch is superb. All of the actors are superb. I believed that THEY believed every word they said. Their bodies were inhabited by their characters. I have really only one criticism of the overall performance. There were times when their voices fell to a level so that I could not discern what they were saying. Cuddy Banks delivered several lines with his hands over his face. Can’t even lip-read that one! However, Mr. Evans, that said, your performance was over the top. Your opening dialogue with Frank was hilarious, but your slow spiral downwards to your father’s denouncement is so regrettable.

Garret Storms, what a wonderful Scratch! Not evil, not old but young and very sexy. Your scene with Elizabeth Sawyer when you became very close in a very human way was intense, to say the least. You were alike in so many ways– two people, both scorned or hated by the world and rejected in your attempts to interact with others.

David Lugo as Sir Arthur Banks reminded me of a used car salesman. When he spoke, others listened. His babying manner with his son, Cuddy is quite telling as to how Cuddy hasn’t really had a chance to grow to manhood. Sir Banks tells us he didn’t know how to raise a son. When we see him in women’s clothing, we begin to understand.

Bradley Atuba is quite full of life and spirit in contrast to the others around him. He easily overlooks others and/or dismisses them entirely in his climb to success. He is happily ruthless. His treatment of Winnifred, played by Tatiana Lucia Gantt, is abhorrent as he blithely denies her claims that he is the father of her baby. Where have we heard that storyline before? She discovers the power that men have over women and her anger and dismay are palpable.

The many themes in this play are so relevant to our present day, and the dialogue is written in the vernacular of our times. I did wonder the reasoning behind keeping the setting in perhaps the Middle Ages. I would love to see this play in present dress and present time, but it would require some rewriting so perhaps that is the answer to my question. There is humor in the juxtaposition of Middle Ages costume, setting, etc., and then characters conversing often in language we hear every day. There is that. And that is just fine.

One cannot go on without words regarding Kara-Lynn Vaeni, the director. Of WITCH. Ms. Vaeni has a very impressive resume and her experience in directing is evident in this current production under her hand. Her staging makes the most of the space her actors work in and she supports them as they develop their characterizations.

A wonderful night of theater brought alive by six extremely talented actors onstage and the many creative people working backstage to make that possible. Stage West is one of the very few DFW theaters that can be counted on, like clockwork, to bring the very best to their audiences. With WITCH, they’ve accomplished that once again.

Stage West
821-823 West Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76104
817-784-9378 /
WITCH plays through April 10
Thursday/Friday 8:00 p.m. $40, Saturday 8:00 p.m. $45, Sunday 3:00 p.m. $45