I loved that the novel from which this one-woman show was adapted: “Lolly Willowes: or the Loving Huntsman” by Sylvia Townsend Warner was a sensation in 1926 and its feminist message is just as relevant 91 years later. (And Lolly’s appeal for a “life of one’s own” came three years before Virginia Woolf called for her own room.)
Lisa Wyatt is excellent as Laura “Aunt Lolly” Willowes an aging spinster who struggles to break free of the endless round of caring for others. Though this is a solo show, there are other characters, Lolly’s family, whose voices (criticisms, demands) emanate from a cathedral- style radio, which give these nagging relatives a sense of spiritual gravitas. Lolly “tunes” them in by turning the knob on the radio, but can’t easily tune them out. It adds a lovely supernatural dimension. I also liked Lolly’s sense of humor.
I liked that Lolly finally exercises her free will and moves to a small country village. But then her nephew visits and wants to stay. While walking in the woods Lolly meets Satan and strikes a pact with him so she can finally be left the hell alone!
Lolly’s observation that “all women are witches…and even if they never do anything with their witchcraft, they know it’s there…” is my favorite line. This isn’t about horror or cauldrons but more about loving nature, solitude, and creating one’s life on one’s own terms.
What I didn't like
I felt the show was a bit short. And perhaps the piece can be further developed. It came in at about 35 minutes and I wanted more. I felt it took too long for Lolly to get to her meeting and pact with the Satan. She spends a lot of time listening to her relatives’ dreary advice, comments and demands (on the radio), then talks about what she wants….“to live a life of her own”…while drinking copious cups of tea. When she finally goes for it and moves to the country, her needy nephew visits and stays. She meets Satan and seals her pact, and then it’s over. I wanted more about her pact/relationship with Satan and perhaps “how” she becomes a witch (or if she was always a witch, more about how she discovers it in herself).
My overall impression
This well-acted one-woman show was adapted from a 1926 feminist novel: “Lolly Willowes: or the Loving Huntsman” by Sylvia Townsend Warner and its message is just as relevant 91 years later. (And Lolly’s appeal for a “life of one’s own” came three years before Virginia Woolf called for her own room.) I was drawn in by Lisa Wyatt’s lovely performance and the supernatural dimension of her family’s voices emanating from a cathedral-style radio, but the play feels too short. I hope it can be expanded to further explain Lolly’s pact with Satan as well as more details about “why (and how) women become witches”.