As part of the King’s Head Theatre’s Festival 47, Out Of The Forest Theatre brings Bury The Hatchet, a very cleverly devised piece of theatre which makes a history lesson thoroughly interesting and enjoyable. Written by Sasha Wilson, the short play takes an innovative approach to telling the story of an acquittal that was the 19th century equivalent of O.J. Simpson.
Recounting the story of Lizzie Borden who was accused of the murder of her Father and Step-Mother, on the morning of August 4th 1892. They were hacked to death by a hatchet and despite all the evidence pointing to Lizzie, she was never convicted, and neither was anyone else. She returned to her hometown of Fall River to live out the rest of her life practically as a recluse. It’s quite a morose tale, yet the company inject a good deal of humour and frivolity into the piece.
Sam Jenkins-Shaw, Joseph Prowen and Sasha Wilson who play all of the characters, regularly break the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience, explaining the narrative that can’t be fitted in to the performance. Occasionally they argue with themselves about which parts of the story to include and which parts to cut, but of course it’s all scripted and helps the audience feel more connected to the plot.
Bury The Hatchet is based on a true story, but as Sasha Wilson explains much of the evidence and history of Lizzie Borden is no longer in existence, leaving the cast to speculate on certain events and provide alternative scenarios. The play is infused with folk music, with the two male leads playing a variety of instruments including a violin and banjo. All three sing, and combined with movement and lighting, left me wishing school history lessons had been as enthralling as this.
Bury The Hatchet takes an axe to the traditional form of story-telling and instead presents a very complicated story in an engaging and uncomplicated way, even including a pie chart! It serves as an example of the impressive kind of theatre which can be found at the likes of Festival 47.