By Hailey Nuthals, Arts Editor
Imagine a horror movie, but as a play. Now imagine it better. Imagine it subtler, more complex in its plot, and with just as many chills but without the clearly-fake blood. Imagine walking in to see a cauldron, expecting witches, and getting mysteries that you want to know the answer to but are a bit frightened to ask for. Scott T. Barsotti’s production “Brewed” gives you all that and more in his expertly crafted story of six sisters.
The story revolves, quite literally, around a cursed cauldron in the basement of a home. The cauldron must be stirred constantly, lest Babette (Danielle O’Farrell) wither into death — or so we come to understand. The rule is hard to test – the sisters tasked with stirring the pot aren’t exactly eager to find out the curse was real just for the sake of knowing. Babette and her sisters, Nannette (Alexis McGuinness), Juliette (Aubrey Saverino), Paulette (Rachael Jenison), Roxette (Vivia Font), and Collette (Sephanie Roetzel) are divided on the topic.
Nannette, the first woman to win a Nascar race, spends most of her time away, earning money to provide for those stuck stirring. Roxette is gone too, too much of a skeptic to stand by idly. The others have a demanding schedule that relies on Paulette’s patience with the episodic, wheelchair-bound Babette and Juliette’s fortuitous strength to stir the pot nearly every hour that she’s not asleep. (Babette, naturally, is quite adamant that the curse is real, and claims pain at even the slightest pause in stirring.)
The precarious family dynamic is tested when, for the first time in ages, Roxette calls a gathering of the sisters. She’s fallen in love with a quirky, enthusiastic woman named Lee (Deb Radloff), and in an attempt at normalcy, wants to introduce Lee to her family. The tension turns out to be greater than anyone could have imagined, however. In a coven of women whose primary method of communication seems to be brutal fistfights carefully battleld around a mystic pot, introducing a new face to the mix comes with more than a few challenges.
The mastery “Brewed’s” production is everywhere. The many expertly staged fights amongst the sisters is so convincing that it’s shocking. The dialogue is flawlessly executed (if it’s hard to deliver lines in a normal play, imagine how hard it is to deliver them when nearly every sentence is supposed to be interrupting someone else). The characters each have their own depth, and the story itself twists and turns, growing deeper while somehow revealing few answers that the audience doesn’t have to piece together themselves.
The play might not be what anyone expected it to be, and it might not have anything close to a resolved ending, but it’s easily one of the most fascinating productions to ever challenge the doubts of an all-woman show and horror in the theater. Eyes should definitely be peeled for Barsotti’s writing and director Jessi D. Hill’s upcoming works.
“Brewed” ran as part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival.