Dirty Hare's Gunter: A Haunting Tale of Power, Possession, and Betrayal

April 10, 2024

Based on actual events that happened in a village close to Oxford in 1604, Dirty Hare's production Gunter, currently playing at the Royal Court Theatre, was co-created by Lydia Higman, Julia Grogan, and Rachel Lemon. It is a fascinating and eye-opening tale. 

The play Gunter, which takes place in late 16th- and early 17th-century Germany, is a gripping examination of property, power, and how women are treated in society. The sad events involving Anne Gunter's father, Brian, and the Gregory family are interwoven with her life, making her the central character of the narrative. The drama explores the nuances surrounding allegations of bewitchment and Anne's subsequent repercussions.

Brian Gunter, Elizabeth, and Anne Gunter.
Photo credits: Alex Brenner

Anne Gunter begins acting oddly and accusing other women of being witches. All of this started because the mother of the two boys who were brutally killed during a football game demanded justice. The murderer is Brian Gunter, a wealthy and influential guy in the hamlet who also happens to be Anne's father. He gets into a heated argument with the boys' mother because he can't stand it when others make fun of him. Anne exhibits peculiar symptoms, and someone claims she has been possessed.

Julia Grogan, co-creator and Elizabeth of Gunter.
Photo credits: Alex Brenner

The production creates a dynamic environment reminiscent of a stand-up comedy show by efficiently utilizing the performance space and engaging the audience through interactive aspects. The play's humor, which is interspersed throughout, tackles topics like fake news while also lightening the more serious subjects.

Photo credits: Alex Brenner

The imaginative minds of Julia Grogan, Rachel Lemon, and Lydia Higman have brought this piece to life. At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2023, it took home numerous honors, including Lyn Gardner's recognition, Playbill's Pick of the Fringe, and the Scotsman Fringe First Award. The play's sold-out Summerhall debut is now making its way to London. 

The entire cast's enthusiasm added to the electrifying mood that filled the room. The group collaborated flawlessly under Rachel Lemon's skillful leadership to produce a captivating performance that held the audience's attention. 

Hannah Jarret-Scott as Brian Gunter.
Photo credits: Alex Brenner

Norah Lopez Holden as Anne Gunter.
Photo credits: Alex Brenner

Jarrett-Scott's performance of Brian Gunter is extraordinary with the skillful portrayal of the character's strength and authority. The performance vividly illustrated the effects of money and rank in the past. Holden did a fantastic job guiding the audience through Anne Gunter's emotional journey. Her portrayal of Anne's difficulties under her father's control and the town's scrutiny was so good that it left a lasting impression on the audience.

Photo credits: Alex Brenner

The narrative makes links between historical occurrences and present social problems as it progresses. The overall narrative retains an atmosphere of intrigue and mystery. It serves as a warning about the perils of unbridled power, abuse, and terror, as well as the evil side of human history. Dirty Hare's production is a must-see for everyone who enjoys theater with a deeper meaning since it presents this tragic event in a style that is both thought-provoking and fascinating.

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