DePaul Theatre School recently put on a production of Vinegar Tom! Student A. Gallegos takes us through a review of this vibrant, defiant, and powerful production.
Witches, b*tches, and striking lyrics are the name of the game at TTS’ Vinegar Tom. The story is kept intimate and small with only around eight characters to keep track of but a metric ton of emotion packed into it. Before the review properly begins, if you didn’t see the show you missed out BIG TIME. This was genuinely one of the most striking and energetic shows I have seen and wish I could have gone a second time.w
Anyway, on to the review! I won’t be going into specific story beats, because the show isn’t really about the story, it is more about how the characters interact and play off of each other. Every character felt fully realized by the wonderful actors and actresses. The protagonist, a young woman disillusioned with her life in the small town, maintains a consistent “otherness” throughout the play. She curses out men who take advantage of her and longs for any way to escape the trap of the small town. Now I don’t quite have a good bead on how to describe the protagonist’s mother, she is a crotchety old hag who is extremely funny and generally just lives her life peacefully alone. However, there are two farmers that are very, uh, religious. They initially are cordial to the family but as their farm falls on hard times they blame it all on the other people.
After all, it must be those evil independent women who cursed their crops and evil spirits cursing them not their selfish ways or generally sh*tty demeanor! Eventually more and more women get labeled as witches for simply being independent, different, or anything that may upset the status quo. Here is where the most important part of this show comes into play.
THE MUSICAL NUMBERS.
The sound designer of the show composed original punk rock numbers that would play in between scenes or emotional moments. These were combined with drop dead gorgeous costumes and singing. These numbers perfectly encapsulated the anger, frustration, and raw emotional energy that coated the entire show. The numbers were in your face, loud, vibrant, and very much did not give a sh*t about the audience (the performers told us to f*** ourselves a few times!). Without these numbers I don’t think Vinegar Tom would have been as enjoyable as it was. Even if you were lost in the actual story or couldn’t follow some of the language the songs would reach into your heart and start pouring raw emotion into it.
Vinegar Tom is a show about women’s rights, othered people, rebelling against authority, and supporting the evil women in every sense of the words. Whether you are queer, straight, cis, trans, white, Hispanic, or any other stripe this show resonates deeply to anybody who has ever felt like an outsider to their own world. I know this felt a bit all over the place and super casual but with a show like this there really isn’t any other way to communicate how vibrant and raw it felt in a review.
Vinegar Tom begs you to say, “f*** oppression” and get protesting. To fight for the people who have been fighting for ages.
Thanks for reading, ARG.
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