Max Berry, Contributing Critic - New York City
“Recipe for a Witch Hunt”, a short play written by Covi Loveridge Brannan and directed by Fedrica Borlenghi, holds the mirror up to today’s world of ICE raids and increasing tensions and fear by taking us back to another time in American history when we were ruled by fear. Set in 1954, during the era of the Cold War and the Red Scare, we meet Barbra (Played by Brannan) and Alice (Nadine Reumer). Tensions mount as Barbra confronts Alice about the reported strange behavior of her child that has been discussed amongst the PTA in a not-so-subtle attempt to gauge where her beliefs and origins line up with what is deemed acceptable. We are shown a world that is, unfortunately, only really different from our own in the clothing the characters wear and some of the words and phrases spoken. It shows the fear and societal pressure on a smaller and more personal scale, allowing the audience to identify and sympathize with it more. The different outlooks on motherhood and family that were discussed were also very well written and engaging. This created not only a distance between them on a political level but a personal one, making the rising confrontation all the more interesting.
The tension in this play was built up beautifully. Brannan did a great job portraying the suspiciously nice woman with an agenda, contrasting nicely with the careful and reserved Alice. The two work off of each other really well and the tension slowly increases as Brannan’s niceness starts to fade away.
Something that really makes this play stand out is a choice that is made half way through the show. This could have very easily just been a play between the two women, discussing Alice’s daughter, Lilly, but Brannan chose to bring the child into the play, completely turning it on its head in the best way possible. Now conversations had to be altered and coded, now everyone had to pretend to be friends, now Barbra was talking sweetly to the child, having yelled at the mother only moments before. The two women must walk on eggshells because, despite everything they disagree on, they agree that this argument is not for a child to hear. The tension dramatically increases. The little girl, Lilly, was played brilliantly by Lily Lewinter. Who, at the young age of eight, held her own with her two adult co-stars and took charge of the stage in a way that often is a struggle of actors much older.
Overall, “Recipe For a Witch Hunt” was a very well written and suspenseful piece with great characters and a striking relevancy. I look forward to more from Brannan in the future.
“Recipe for a Witch Hunt” was written by Covi Loveridge Brannan and directed by Fedrica Borlenghi.
It featured: Covi Loveridge Brannan, Nadine Reumer, and Lily Lewinter.
It was presented at the Manhattan Reperatory Theater’s Summer of Shorts (17-19 W 45th St, New York NY 10046).