Director Shannon Ferrante led the three strong, and maybe-not-quite-strong-enough, women who populate this play, doing their best to “live without fear.” Independent, flirtatious, devoted mother (Janet Haley ) and defiant, but also devoted, daughter (Dani Cochrane) run an apothecary shop, providing herbs and medicines — specializing in a belladonna-laced “holy water” that can cure a woman of an abusive husband. The wife of the viscount (Maeyson Menzel) arrives with a black eye, in need of help —but, will the murder of such a prominent figure be as easily ignored as the murder of brutal peasant husbands? The plot thickens with a lesbian tryst between daughter and abused wife… It’s a murderer’s mystery and a tale of women’s strength, devotion and identity.
I was struck by the way a new script could leap back to its era with language that was not Shakespearean but somehow had the flavor of olden times. The costumes (Karen Kangas-Preston) evoked the era, but were manageable when some needed to be removed. Kirk Domer’s set had practical, multi-use pieces, also era-evoking, but stylized, with an artistic use of bottles. Shannon T. Schwietzer’s lighting was dramatic and important in setting different locations using the same set pieces. Both lighting and Julia Garlotte’s sound design heightened the impact of the final scene.
Our Lady of Poison continues through February 25 at Williamston Theatre. www.williamstongtheatre.org