On Thursday evening, we have two scripts being presented, one written by Abby Howells, and our second show by Uther Dean. Both stories lean heavily into the silly, and we are lucky to have the excellent comedic timing of Hannah Kelly, Sameena Zehra, and Jonny Potts to bring the shows to life.
Howell’s tale of a scary(?) lake monster kicks off the night. I am loath to spoil the hilarious twists and turns of the plot, but let’s just say that the lake monster isn’t the feared creature of the deep that he expects to be when he emerges to spook a couple of teens. Though, what else should he expect from a town called Hard Knocks, which has seen it all before and then some. Potts narrates the story, giving the show a feel of a fairytale or horror film gone awry. Zehra and Kelly both play a wide range of small town characters, at which their ability to transform from a bloke at the bar to a steamy seductress at the drop of a hat is both hilarious and admirable.
My favourite aspect of the show has to be the interactive elements, which cast the crowd as the general townspeople, allowing us to cheer and boo and mutter at the direction of sound designer Devlin. A slightly boozy 8.30pm crowd take to the task with gusto, and of course the odd bit of audience improv gives a unique embellishment to the script.
Dean’s next script rounds out the evening, taking us to a live show of a popular literary podcast, Zehra and Kelly play two podcast hosts that will feel eerily familiar to anyone who has ever listened to My Favourite Murder or a podcast of such ilk. The two women, who normally host a show about books, are dealt an unexpected hand when their guest Donathan turns out to be a bit more of a handful than they may have anticipated - though he certainly provides a good lesson in how to ‘exspectre’ the ‘unexspectred’.
The highlight of this half hour has to be the wacky characters, who acknowledge themselves to be grotesque caricatures. Everything you love to hate about podcasts, from the exhausting pop culture references (yas kween) to a performative wholeness that fails to scratch the surface, is pushed to the limit in both text and performance. Donathan is played by Potts to uncomfortable perfection, somehow both looking and sounding like he rolled out from a crypt to join the land of the living.
All in all, The Witching Hours provides a ridiculous hour of entertainment, and is guaranteed not to disappoint in the laughs department. I know I’ll eagerly be awaiting the next instalment, as it’s well worth a second, third, and fourth visit.