by Terry Holzman
WHO: Kate Motzenbacker and Sal Nicolazzo
WHAT: Why We Become Witches
WHERE: Sacred Fools Studio
WHY: This one-woman show was adapted from the novel “Lolly Willowes; or the Loving Huntsman” by Sylvia Townsend Warner and was a sensation when it was first published in 1926. Its feminist message is just as relevant 91 years later.
Lisa Wyatt plays Laura “Aunt Lolly” Willowes, an aging English spinster who struggles to break free of her controlling family. Lisa is fascinating to watch as she slowly draws us into Lolly’s life: an endless round of taking care of others. There’s a clever dimension of the supernatural as Lolly “tunes in” to her family’s comments, demands and criticisms through a radio. It’s a little harder however, to “tune them out” as they constantly tell Lolly what she “should” be doing, where and how she should be living. I liked that the recorded voices emanated through an old “cathedral-style” radio (my grandmother had one just like it) which gives the voices a dose of spiritual gravitas.
And all Lolly wants is to be left alone! She wants to leave London and move to the small village of Great Mop (population 227), where she can have a small house “and a donkey!” She eventually moves to countryside but soon after, her nephew visits and decides to stay. While out walking, she meets Satan and strikes a pact. I loved Lolly’s observation that “all women are witches….and even if they never do anything with their witchcraft, they know it’s there.”
Lolly Willowes appealed for a “life of one’s own” three years before Virginia Woolf called for her own room. Kudos to Kate and Sal for finding this gem of a story and adapting into a poetic theater piece.