I'm not normally a great fan of any play or book with the word "witch" in the title but when one of our friends mentioned that Rochdale Amateur Operatic Society was performing Witchfinder, my interest was piqued. Especially as the friend in question was also performing in the show and many of our other friends wanted to see it. So, we found ourselves at the Gracie Fields Theatre in Rochdale enjoying an unexpectedly fabulous evening's entertainment.

Witchfinder is set in Jacobean England of 1612. An England rife with suspicion, religious strife and fear and a country still reeling from the repercussions of the Gunpowder Plot a few years earlier. The monarch, James 1, was obsessed with demonology and a deep fear of Catholicism and those subjects who didn't follow the Protestant faith could expect to feel the full force of the monarch's wrath. Against this backdrop, Witchfinder tells a poignant love story laced with mass paranoia and suspicion.

Quite simply, I LOVED the show. The actors, all amateur, were superb, the music fantastic and some excellent voices. The story unfolded with great simplicity. The show was all the more poignant for being based on the true story of the Pendle Witches.

I've never been interested in reading much of the fiction and history surrounding the Pendle Witches' story although I love the poetry and literature of the period especially the Recusant poets who suffered for their faith and produced such moving and memorable poetry. Never before have I fully made the connection between the Catholic faith and the persecution of the villagers of Pendle. The show made this connection brilliantly.

On a very practical note, the theatre is great with really comfortable seats and great acoustics. The special effects were brilliant and added to the show, Also Chris loved the show as much as I did, which was a totally unexpected, and very pleasant, surprise!