Magic, mystery, murder and mayhem

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The latest offering from the Abbey Theatre is a creepy story of witchcraft based on a tragic true tale.

‘The Witches of Pollok’ by Anne Downie tells the tale of a 17th century West Coast community ripped apart by a witchcraft trial, how neighbour turns on neighbour and even families turn on each other.

Right in the midst of it all is the peculiar Janet Douglas, played by Laura Adam on grandstanding form as the formerly mute mind reader who can ‘spot’ witches.

A sizeable cast takes to the stage, but the number of roles is even greater than that, so all the actors must be praised for their versatility.

All of the dialogue is in Scots, and there is an undercurrent of pithy humour which makes for an interesting contrast with the growing horror of the repercussions of the witchcraft trial.

Jim Shaw is on fine form as the unfortunate victim of sorcery, local laird Sir George. The audience feels great sympathy for Pat McInroy’s Mary who it seems inadvertently brings the curse on her family. Linda Patterson is powerful as the wronged Jenny Mathie Stewart, and Gordon Holder and Zoe Killoh play up to their parts of as her tortured offspring.

Byron Rodriguez is very fluid as the shyster Allan Geddes and the bombastic Commissioner of Witchcraft.

All in all, the whole cast deserves praise, not only for their varied and ever-changing roles, but for the quality of their acting and the steadfastness of their Scots!

Well done to the full cast - Janet Douglas, Jim Shaw, Lisa Marie Woods, Kain Jack Yuille, Ged Ryan, Pat McInroy, Alan Johnston, Linda Patterson, Gordon Holder, Zoe Killoh, Byron Rodriguez, Heather Osborne, Aimee Dorward, Bill McKenzie, Jamie Smith, Kim Rennie, Debbi Proctor, Emma Smith, Kelsey McKenzie and Keira McKenzie.

‘The Witches of Pollok’ is a well-crafted piece of spine-tingling theatre, with some great turns, snappy Scots banter and a twisted mystery at the heart of everything.

It runs at the Abbey theatre, West Abbey Street, until tomorrow (Saturday), curtains up at 7.30pm, tickets are £7 on the door or from VisitScotland on 01241 872609.