Edinburgh Fringe 2023
In this one-woman show, actress Kate is distracted from creating her self-tape audition as Virginia Woolf by scrolling witch tiktok, avoiding her fiancé, reminiscing about Viking orgy parties, and even summoning the spirit of Woolf herself.
Kate has a deadline. She needs to self-record an audition tape of herself as Virginia Woolf, but time is running short. “Nothing matters,” she says, “So nothing is impossible.” She mimics the round, plummy tones of Woolf, mimicking the only recording of her voice, reading a section of ‘A Room of One’s Own’. There is something stopping her from completely finishing it though, and through a series of distractions, we learn more about Kate and the connections to Woolf that extend beyond the audition tape. During the hour, we are treated to tales about Club Circe, an occult shop where the owner Zoe reads her “unremarkable” problems and subscribes her one-hundred pounds worth of candles. In the same venue, Katie runs into a Vikink (viking+kink) party and takes the opportunity to educate the members on Virginia Woolf’s suicide letter, which was edited for public consumption to make her seem crazier than she actually was. Kate has a lot to contribute to the canon of sane women living with a mental illness, and takes issue with how heroines are being Fleabaggified, wherein by the end they are sad and alone, but somehow fulfilled. She wonders about her own lesbian fairytale that she is actively running from, and binges Witch Tiktok. @Sandra-Maggs is a Gilda Radner-esque witch who extols Shine Theory, which adds moments of poetry to the piece, occasionally punctuated by meowing from her cat. “If you are a woman and dare to look within yourself,” Maggs says, “You are a witch”. Our power is activated by acknowledging our truth, and working together as women. Although these diversions feel like they are taking her farther away from what she ought to be doing, they in fact help her conjure Virginia Woolf herself, who helps Katie realize that her desire for love without responsibility is not something she can achieve.
Here at the Ivy at Greenside, where “the veil is thinnest”, ‘Modern Witches’ has a magical aura about it. The room smells lightly of incense, and we are greeted with candles as we walk in. Kate Kopajtic is immediately a natural and compelling host; in fact, it feels like much of the show is completely off-the-cuff, simply something she decided she wanted to say to only us in this moment. Her vibe is a bit Helen Hunt with a dash of Keira Knightley, crossed the presenting style of Carrie Fisher. The writing is at times conversational, and then lyrical, and there are moments that could be straight out of a Monty Python sketch. It is clearly thoroughly and lovingly researched, but the information is folded in rather than center-stage.
As @Sandra-Maggs reminds us on her Witch Tok channel, we are living in a time where it would do well for women to remember where we come from, and that we have to stand together to shine brightly. The world is going backwards, and with that comes the possibility that women who simply acknowledged theirselves will be branded witches, and if we allow that time, it is not long before it is followed by burnings. At the more personal level, watching Kate allow herself take the responsibility for love, hopefully with her fiance, but here most obviously with her career. When she finally commits and does a monologue from Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes for the audition, the fusion of Kopajtic’s writing and acting is nothing short of magic.