top of page

HAVE YOUR          SAY.....

Whether you agree or disagree with our critics, we welcome  your comments and will try to include them at the end of the review. 

Please use our contact form 

Rising Above The Welkin

The Welkin cast. Photo courtesy of the Criterion Theatre.

The Welkin, by Lucy Kirkwood at The Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry, from 21 – 28 October 2023.

Review by Alison Manning.

The Welkin portrays the story of twelve women who have been chosen to decide the fate of another. Convicted of helping in the murder of a young girl, Sally Poppy claims to be pregnant and the dozen women have been hurriedly assembled to decide if her claim is true, or an excuse to escape the hangman’s noose.

Whilst the increasingly rowdy crowd shout outside the window, impatient for the spectacle of another hanging, the women must all overcome prejudices and agree on what is the truth. Plucked from their housework, with their undone chores playing on their mind, the women wrestle with their own issues as they struggle to cope with the power that has been placed in their hands and the justice and morality they have to exercise.

Alice Scott as Sally Poppy. Photo courtesy of the Criterion Theatre.

Banned from food, drink, heat and the light of candles during the process, tensions inevitably escalate and the explosive truths revealed, as voices are found and secrets uncovered, aren’t necessarily the truths they were searching for.

Set around the 18th century, with the occasional deliberate anachronism, this production features a largely female cast of an assortment of characters, with an assortment of accents, who all introduce themselves in their own way as they take turns to take the oath. We learn of their abundance of, or lack of, children, and their concerns and preoccupations, varying from picking leaks and pregnancies through hot flushes and old grudges to missing nutmegs and coming comets.

Despite the heavy subject matter the multi-age cast, depicting matriarchs, the middle-aged and youngsters, succeed in bringing out the humour in the script and they interact well together to engage attention in a play of a minimalistic set and very few scene changes.

A strong performance by Alice Scott as Sally Poppy. Photo Courtesy of the Criterion Theatre.

Apart from the shorter opening scenes, most of the cast are on stage for most of the show. They join together in a song in an especially poignant moment, again with some of the tension diffused through humour. Anne-marie Greene particularly stood out in the role of conflicted midwife Elizabeth Luke, who is reluctantly persuaded to become the twelfth member of the group. There is also a strong raw performance by Alice Scott as the bitter, but seemingly unrepentant, accused, Sally Poppy.

The title of the play, The Welkin, refers to the sky or heavens, where several of the characters regularly glance in search of the imminently expected arrival of Halley’s comet, keen not to miss the first predicted appearance of this once-in-a-lifetime celestial wonder. As superstitions abound, glancing at the sky becomes a means of transcending the struggles that are weighing them down, both their everyday burdens and the conflicts, indignities and abuses that could occur to them as females in a male-dominated society. Staring upwards becomes especially significant as the play reaches its dramatic conclusion.

The Welkin is on at The Criterion theatre in Earlsdon, Coventry till Saturday 28 October. More details about tickets can be found here: Go gaze at it whilst you can.


bottom of page