Witch, thy name is woman

Vinegar Tom

Vinegar Tom, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday; $20-$30. KOLT Run Creations, in the basement of the historic Elks Tower Sacramento, 921 11th Street; (916) 454-1500; www.koltruncreations.com. VIP tickets include a wine tasting by Rail Bridge Cellars. A CD of the original music for the play is available for a donation of $15 or more to Women Escaping a Violent Environment. Through November 3.

The Elks Tower

921 11th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 444-2988

Rated 5.0

If, as Antonin Artaud wrote, there is an element of cruelty in every spectacle, then KOLT Run Creations’ production of Vinegar Tom is simply spectacular. It’s also more than a little timely, given the crop of right-wing political misogynists who have, in recent months, suggested that rape is just another “method of conception” and the country would be better off if women couldn’t vote.

The veil between past and present is thin, and never has it been thinner than when one steps—carefully—into the basement swimming pool at the Elks Tower Sacramento, where Caryl Churchill’s play is being staged for its limited run. Under the direction of Lisa Thew, an exceptional acting ensemble and an outstanding trio of musicians recreate a 17th-century witch hunt in an English village. But they also scrape away the veneer of civilization, so that we see how easily this cruelty might be enacted—yes, even today. The pertinent question is the one we must ask the mirror: If I was there, would they hang me for a witch?

The cast is simply too excellent to note one particular performance. The nature of the work calls on all nine performers (Lindsay Jones, Floyd Harden, Blair Leatherwood, Tara Henry, Melanie Marshall, Kellie Yvonne Raines, Elizabeth Holzman, Kelley Ogden and Shelly Sandford) to remain onstage and participate in the action for the entire length of the play. The musical team—Patrick Claypool, Martha Omiyo Kight and Andrea Eve Thorpe—are also beyond merely good; in addition to performing the music, they also composed it.

By the time you read this, the second weekend of shows will probably be sold out, as was the first. Get tickets immediately: This production of Vinegar Tom is not to be missed.