“Aspen Astronomer: The Endangered Witch”, by Becci Louise, Saturday 22 July, The Dome at Station Hill
Review by Mike Facherty
Star Rating 4 Stars
The tantalising title, “Aspen Astronomer: The Endangered Witch”, made me want to discover more about Becci Louise’s “enchanting” creation. So, I asked for the chance to review it for the Fringe. It was performed at The PentaHotel in a comfortable, air-conditioned room. Excellent!
Despite a misleading blurb that promised origami, illustrations and a science fair, the show had charms in abundance to delight the audience, including a live parrot.
The writer and presenter of the show, Becci, was inspired to create her show when working with Year 7 and Year 8 children. It’s a work in progress and she plans to tour with it next year to libraries, schools and art centres. By then, it should be unmissable.
Becci is also developing the story behind the show into a book (that’s where the illustrations would come in). There is still no sign of the origami, though.
Some of the children in the audience were a bit too young for the story telling show but the older children and parents loved it. And even the younger ones enjoyed meeting Becci’s Quaker Parrot, Maya, after the show and stroking and petting her. I think the best audience for the show would be adults and children from older Junior years and the first few years of Secondary School.
Aspen Astrologer is a satisfying story about a young girl who is also a witch. She comes from a supportive family and is self-contained and confident, and persistent in her efforts to help two of her classmates who are struggling to cope at school. It turns out that Aspen is not actually endangered but witchcraft is.
The show works through a number of themes that provoked involvement and thought. These include the loss of magic as children age, being expected to fit into gender stereotypes, the impact of a dysfunctional family background, developing poor coping strategies and overcoming the associated problems.
The show features some lovely language, my personal favourite is “Saturday rolls out of its long slumber like a giant in its good mood.” closely followed by the description of Aspen’s grandmother as having “hands that could make soup in their sleep.”. Becci is not obsessed with sleep. Honest!
I expect that the show will have grown to a full five stars next time I see it. And I do hope to see it in Reading again.
You can read, see and hear some of Becci’s work on: beccipoet.wordpress.com/becci-louise