Graveyard Of The Outcast Dead

Aug 9 2023 | By More

★★★★☆      Engaging

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39): Sat 5 – Fri 25 Aug 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

The relationships between past and present, and how even the unremembered are never truly forgotten, are explored intelligently, emotionally and tunefully in Graveyard Of The Outcast Dead by Kira Mason.

From Reverb, Not So Nice! And New Celts at theSpace on the Mile, the tale of the ‘Winchester Geese’ – sex workers in Southwark, London, who were directly regulated by the Bishop of Winchester and buried in the Crossbones graveyard – is presented partly as a love story apparently involving the dead as well as the living.

Eilidh West, Olivia McIntosh and Clare Wootton. Graveyard of the Outcast Dead. Pic: Ian Davie

Despite the ghoulish premise and the performers’ occasional insistence that the audience are being made to feel uneasy, there is more than a little that is uplifting about this, with its musical interludes, riddles and tales of both the fairy and Canterbury type, complete with footnotes.

Ewan Burns, tending both bar and graveyard, has a puckish (and indeed Puckish) glee that is immediately engaging. There is an open-faced simplicity to Alexander Tait’s would-be lover that charms.

At the centre are the three storytelling Winchester Geese – Eilidh West, Olivia McIntosh and Clare Wootton. The dynamic and rapport between them is instantly believable, all three have real stage presence, and their presentation as both everyday and otherworldly – a very difficult balance to sustain – is done well.

genuine venom

Hypocrisy is highlighted. This may be in the traditional tales with their double standards, or in the Church simultaneously condemning sex work and profiting from it. This is conveyed with humour but also genuine venom, and the combination of hope and regret, optimism and fury, is thoroughly effective.

Olivia McIntosh, Eilidh West, Clare Wootton, Ewan burns and Alexander Tait in Graveyard of the Outcast Dead. Pic Ian Davie

There is a fluidity to Matthew Attwood’s direction. The movement, the interaction with the audience and the music with West on fiddle, Tait on guitar, McI tosh on clarinet, Wootton on vocals and Burns on percussion, are all discharged with authority.

Almut Echtler and Kirstine Jensen’s costumes are particularly noteworthy; Lewis Gemmell’s technical work is very fine, although the constant sudden lighting switches, accompanied by the banging of Burns’s cajon, to signal changes of scene does become wearing.

The use of traditional tropes and features of a graveyard-set story without following them unthinkingly is one of the many features that makes this production a success. Its heart and its anger mean that it is thoroughly recommended.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
theSpace on the Mile, 80 High St, EH1 1TH (Venue 39)
Saturday 5 – Friday 25 August 2023 (odd dates only)
Odd dates only at 5.10 pm
Tickets and details: Book here.

Reverb Theatre links


Twitter: @reverbtheatre_



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