Vinegar Tom’s tale of power and oppression is a challenging production for Stevenage theatre team

Rehearsals for Lytton Players production Vinegar Tom

Rehearsals for Lytton Players production Vinegar Tom - Credit: Archant

Just as Arthur Miller’s landmark work The Crucible isn’t just about the Salem witch trials, Caryl Churchill’s 1976 work Vinegar Tom isn’t just about similar paranoia and persecution that happened on this side of the Atlantic in the 17th century.

As you’d expect from a playwright who has ploughed a radical and feminist furrow for more than five decades and is still producing angry but engaging work, the script chosen for an ambitious Lytton Players production which opens next week examines gender and power – but throws in a few songs, too.

The play tells the story of Alice, who lives in a small village with her mother Joan.

Both are accused of witchcraft after a run-in with their neighbours who believe that a series of mishaps on their farm can only be explained by malevolent magic.

The Vinegar Tom of the title is Joan’s cat – also her witch’s familiar, according to her accusers.

Christian faith and society’s oppression of women don’t come off well in this challenging work, with one character condemned as insane just because she doesn’t want to marry.

The production, which opens next Wednesday and runs through until Saturday at the company’s Lytton Theatre in Vardon Road with performances each evening at 7.45pm, is director Aaron Govey’s first full-length play.

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He cut his teeth directing and writing the Little Mermaid segment of the youth section’s February production inspired by Hans Christian Andersen and also played the key role of Winston Smith in the company award-winning production of George Orwell’s 1984 last year.

The show also features original music written by the play’s musical director Derek Blyth,

If you’re a fan of Brechtian theatre this graphic and challenging production has to be a date in your diary, but it’s not suitable for children under 16.

Tickets are only £6 and they’re available from the box office on 01438 357407 or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/lyttonplayers.

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