Most people will have heard of Burke & Hare and their notorious crimes. Though I wonder how many, like me, thought their crime was that of grave robbers? when in fact it was far worse!
Burke & Hare currently playing at The New Wolsey is a telling of the duos tale, how they met and fell into their gruesome money-making scheme of selling dead bodies.
Public discection was common in Edinburgh in the early 1800s and the audiences very often included curious members of the public as well as medical students.
The only thing is, for a discection firstly you need a body, preferably dead, and these are not always readily available. Enter the two Williams, Burke and Hare along with Hare’s wife.
Originally created by Jenny Wren Productions this is a new production directed by Abigail Pickard Price and written by Tom Wentworth. There are alot of people in this story, the main cast as previously mentioned along with surgeons, customers at the Hare’s boarding house and pub, plus victims and even a few animals as well including a horse, a dog and a parrot. All characters, living and dead, are played by just a cast of three actors, Hayden Wood (William Burke and others), Josie Dunn (Mrs Hare, Helen and others) and James Mack (William Hare and others).
Burke & Hare is described as a murderous romp and this is true, while keeping pretty much to the true facts it’s played in a humourous way. Maybe this makes such an awful crime more palatable.
All the cast are terrific, but special mention must be made of James Mack who in one scene plays so many characters at the same time, well I lost count, but there was also a parrot and dog in there as well.
So with such evil crimes, surely they can’t get away with it…. or can they? Well you’ll have to go along to find out.
Playing at the New Wolsey until Saturday 21st May…. book now, it would be a crime not too!
Review: Mark Keable, Ipswich24 Magazine