Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

witch top

Sinead Maffei, Faye Bingham and Donna Abram working their witchery

The Witches

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


When it comes to the world of children’s stories Roald Dahl it seems rises above most every other author.

The World War II pilot was sent to Washington as attaché after recovering from a serious head injury. It was there, after the publishing of his first story in the Saturday Evening Post, that his writing career began.

It was not until 1953 that Dahl began writing stories for Revihis own children and his skills began to be focused on his younger readers. His success was down to themes where the children themselves are the heroes with the subsequent punishment of cruel adults who dare to challenge them.

The Witches, written in 1983, is about to have something of a big screen resurgence with Back to the Future film director Robert Zemeckis reported to be producing another film version of Dahls classic story in the near future.

It’s a timely opportunity then for The Nonentities to produce this current version which has been adapted by David Wood.

It’s a complex piece to stage as the story centres on a group of witches who hate children and produce a new spell that turns them into mice.

The transformation process has been amusingly achieved by the use of puppets. Integrating them into the performance requires a certain level of skill and their cute appearance certainly keeps the production an entertaining one for children

The story focuses upon two young boys who end up inside the annual general meeting of all the witches of Inkland (England) at the Hotel Magnificent in Bournemouth. The boys are discovered by the witches who administer the new potion that quickly turns them into mice.


Andy Bingham and Chris Kay with their puppets 

The Grand High Witch of all the World was played by Sinead Maffei who appeared as something of a Mystic Meg character and had great fun dispensing her evil to the boys. Transforming herself with the full head mask of some nightmarish creature, certain scenes appeared as some sort demonic ritual.

The boy was played by Chris Kay although it was hard at times not to see him as a full grown man in short trousers. Andy Bingham plays Bruno the second boy, infatuated with food, who falls under the witches spell. Both played their parts with enthusiasm and when transformed into mice with their puppets, it was hard not to look at the puppet rather than the actor.

The boy’s Nordic grandmother was played by Joan Wakeman with Richard Taylor taking on the roles of the lawyer, Mr Jenkins and a manic chef. Bob Graham also took on dual roles of the Hotel doorman and the second chef with all three performers worked hard to keep the action going.

There was a highly colourful and effective set constructed by Keith Higgins, Mike Lawrence and Colin Taylor that was very much in the symmetrical style of film director Wes Anderson, with the performance greatly aided by some simple but clever lighting by David Wakeman.

At times the play suffered a little from some of the transitions in getting actors on and off and the hard task of bringing the puppets in and out of the performance. Overall though this was a challenging piece for the company but definitely an entertaining and well thought out production.

If you or your children are a fan of Roald Dahl then this production will certainly delight you. To 01-12-18

Jeff Grant


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