Vinegar Tom

28 Oct - 6 Nov 2021
The Maltings Theatre, St Albans
A splendid ensemble all of whom leave everything on the stage and deliver so many moments of magic... Matthew Parker’s direction is as theatrically fertile as they come
IThankyou Theatre

“If you float you’re a witch
If you scream you’re a witch
If you sink then you’re dead anyway”

Alice thinks she has met the devil and dreams of him nightly, wishing he’d return. Does this make her a witch?

Betty, the teenage daughter of a wealthy landowner, has refused to marry and is locked up in her room by her parents, convinced she is bewitched.

A farmer and his wife are blighted by bad luck. Convinced their neighbour Joan (along with her cat Vinegar Tom) has put a curse on them, they whip up a whirlwind of fear and fire. 

Into this perfect storm of superstition and slander a renowned “witch-finder” arrives and it’s not long until almost every woman in the village has the finger of suspicion pointing at them.

“Not for me to say one’s a witch or not a witch. I give you the glass and you see in it what you see in it.”

Caryl Churchill’s bold musical drama Vinegar Tom was first performed in 1976 and continues to resonate today. By turns beautiful, brutal, funny and moving, this electric fusion of seventeenth century folklore and modern folk-rock comes to the The Maltings in a 45th anniversary production with live music composed by Maria Haik Escudero under the direction of Off West End Award winner Matthew Parker. 

Vinegar Tom was written for Monstrous Regiment and was first presented at the Humberside Theatre, Hull, on 12th October 1976.


  • Alice: Emilia Harrild
  • Joan/Sprenger: Jill Priest
  • Margery: Cathy Conneff
  • Susan: Melissa Shirley-Rose
  • Betty: Lauren Somerville
  • Ellen/Bellringer/Kramer: Lottie Davies
  • Goody: Emma Thrower
  • Jack: Alan Howell
  • Man/Doctor/Packer: Jon Bonner


  • Writer: Caryl Churchill
  • Composer & Musical Director: Maria Haik Escudero
  • Director: Matthew Parker
  • Producer: Ryan Wilce
  • Stage Manager: Lauren Hitchen
  • Designer: Sorcha Corcoran
  • Costume Designer: Alice McNicholas
  • Lighting Designer: Matt Dugee
  • Sound Designer: Michael Bird
  • Intimacy Consultant: Asha Jennings-Grant
  • Assistant Director: Matt Strachan
  • Press: Judy Lipsey
  • Production Photography: Pavel Gonevski
  • Publicity Image Photography: Elliott Franks

The play is not without humour – light and dark always perfectly balanced to often devastating effect in Mr Parker’s plays – and it comes naturally out of situations we can still recognise.

IThankyou Theatre

With powerful direction, a mesmerising score and fantastic ensemble cast, OVO have nailed it once again!

Herts Advertiser

Sterling efforts of director Matthew Parker and his talented cast

Musical Theatre Review

It is a play full of rage and desperation, which is successfully captured in Matthew Parker’s production for the Maltings Theatre.

The Stage

Matthew Parker’s production for OVO Theatre Company makes excellent use of the Maltings Studio Theatre, with minimal set (three raised daises and a passion!)

Number 9

Parker’s 2020 production of Henry V at the Roman Theatre (also produced by OVO) had a wonderful sense of company spirit, and he has clearly found that same level of vibrancy and community in this very dark tale.

London Theatre1

Vinegar Tom is a haunting piece of theatre... Do make the trip to St. Albans if you have never seen this play before—it’s vintage Churchill, and a timely revival.

Spy In The Stalls