Director and adapter Eve Leigh has mixed the contemporary and the traditional for her adaptation of S Ansky’s tale born from Jewish folklore.
Ross Blake’s discordant music replaces the traditional klezmer and designers Alison Drewitt and Towera Ridley have the men in the cast dressed in ordinary suits (except the enigmatic Messenger who wears a ripped white T-shirt), while the women are in traditional dress (the exception being Fradde’s very trendy buckled boots).
Whether intentional or not, the play therefore highlights the archaic folklore, myths and legends upon which religions, all religions, are based and how they impact on everyday life.
Performances from the majority of the cast are strong. A classical approach emphasises this mix of the old and the modern and brings a gravity to the play.
Edward Hogg as Chonen, the gifted scholar whose broken heart leads him to become the Dybbuk, or vengeful spirit, wrenches the anguish from his character without upstaging the rest of the cast. While Hanne Steen as Leah, the object of his affections, treads lightly with her character making her something of an abstraction.
Lisa Came as Fradde fixes the whole tale in reality with a steady performance. But it is Tam Williams, who seems to have been around for years and yet hasn’t aged, who stalks the stage, managing to create mystery in a eye-catching performance from a role that is a messenger from both God and the author.