Burning of Dutch Anabaptist Anneken Hendriks // Modfied by M. Huston

Vinegar Tom

February  16 – 25, 2023

Written By Caryl Churchill
Music by Helen Glavin
Director Francis Matheu (MFA Candidate in Directing made possible in part by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts)

“What is a witch? A woman who is just a bit too attractive? A bit too ugly? A bit too handy with spells
and magic?”
– LA Times review

Set in a time when it’s dangerous to be a woman without a husband – or just a woman who’s different –  Vinegar Tom is a wild mash-up that blends a 17th-century witch hunt with modern musical numbers that cleverly connect this tale to how women’s bodies remain a battleground today.

The play, written in the 1970s by the much-acclaimed British playwright, leads us to question not only the historical persecution of “witches” over the ages, but why anyone persecutes anyone. In this work Churchill is at her best: raw, satirical, political, and mad as hell!


Presented by special arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. 

Made possible in part by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)


Caryl Churchill, Playwright

With over 50 plays for stage and radio to her name, the prolific Caryl Churchill is considered by many other writers as our greatest living playwright. She is known for pushing boundaries, both in rethinking traditional theatrical forms as well as creating works that are compelling calls to action on a number of subjects, including feminism, abuses of power and sexual politics.

Born in London, England in 1938, Churchill emigrated to Canada after the second World War but returned in 1956 to attend Oxford University. While raising her family in the 1960s and 1970s, Churchill wrote radio dramas and television plays for the BBC. In 1972, her play Owners, a two-act, 15-scene play about obsession with power, was her first work to be produced in London. From 1974-5 she served as the Resident Dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre.

Churchill has won multiple Obie Off-Broadway Awards, including for Cloud 9 (1981), a farce about sexual politics; Top Girls (1982), a play about women losing humanity to gain power; Serious Money (1987), a comedy about excesses in the financial world; as well as the Obie for Sustained Achievement Award (2001).

Churchill is known for experimenting with non-traditional techniques and theatrical forms, including Hotel (1997), a choreographed opera or sung ballet set in a hotel room; This Is a Chair (1999), a surrealistic short play; and Love and Information (2012), a play with over 100 characters in 57 unrelated scenes that leaves audiences questioning the choices that they make online and how they affect the truly important things in their lives.

Now into her 80s, Churchill continues to be exceptionally productive, having written nine plays in the past five years.

Francis Matheu, Director

Francis Matheu is a Filipino theatre artist and MFA candidate in directing at the University of Victoria’s Department of Theatre. In 2021-22, Francis directed David Henry Hwang’s A Sound of a Voice and Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter at the Phoenix Theatre as classroom exercises – exploring the subjects of gender subjugation and authoritarianism. In the summer of 2022, Francis served as assistant director for Blue Bridge Repertory’s production of Hedda Gabler at the Roxy Theatre.
Before arriving in BC, Francis belonged to a vibrant mainstream theatre industry in the Philippines, appearing in nearly 50 plays and musicals. As a creative artist, he has directed and choreographed 15 cantatas, 11 plays, and 11 musicals, including Grease, I Love You, Because…Children of Eden, The Wedding Singer, Lysistrata, and Dancing Lessons.
Through Twin Bill Theater – a company he founded with his twin brother – Francis uses theatre as a venue for formal dialogue and intellectual discourse and to address relevant issues facing society.
Harnessing drama as a platform to combat disinformation, Francis is delighted to stage Caryl Churchill’s Vinegar Tom as part of the Phoenix Theatre’s 2022-23 season. The production aims to unpack and accentuate Churchill’s exquisite depiction of gender inequality and patriarchal coercion by way of the 17th-century witch-hunts in England. Through the conscious efforts of ordinary individuals and people in power, we see the weaponization of baseless and fabricated stories against the powerless and the innocent. As the world witnesses the rampant spread of disinformation today, Vinegar Tom reveals itself as a powerful dramatic story that audiences will find both moving and relevant today. This directing project was made possible in part by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).


Show Dates

In-Person Performances*
Tuesday to Friday evenings at 8pm
Saturday matinees at 2pm

Streaming Performances
Thursday February 23 at 7pm
Friday February 24 at 7pm
Saturday February 25 at 3pm 



Subscription packages are available now.

Single Tickets for this show are available after Monday, February 6, 2023.

Charge by phone: 250-721-8000
or in person at the Phoenix Box Office
(Ticket purchases are not possible online)

Box Office Hours: Click HERE.

  • Friday & Saturday Evenings:
    All Seats $30
  • Wednesday, Thursday Evenings & Saturday Matinees:
    All Seats $26
  • Cheap Tuesdays:
    All Seats $16
  • Student Rush Tickets:
    30 minutes before every show: $16
  • UVic Alumni: Saturday Matinees: $21  (with UVic Alumni ONECard)
  • Streaming Performances
    Thursday & Saturday: $26
    Friday: $30 

Please review the current COVID-19 protocols and vaccination requirements for in-person performances.


Performed in the Roger Bishop Theatre

Cast & Creative

Director Francis Matheu
Musical Director Naomi Harris
Musical Arranger Naomi Sehn
Set & Costume Designer Mallory Goodman
Lighting Designers Ken Matthews and Carson Schmidt
Sound DesignerJaeden Walton
Choreographer Alison Roberts
Streaming Director Kevin Eastman
Stange Manager Georgia Sherman

Hannah Farquhar
Rodel Frazer
Syrah Khan
Klara Kopeinigg
Katie Lacroix
Susannah Rebar
Sarah Shepherd
Jenny Robinson
Christopher Salt
Jack Storwick

Kaylee Cavanagh
Samantha Frew
Sarah-Michelle Lang
Avery Przyswitt
Sophie Taylor


.. Preshow Lecture
Friday, February 17 at 7pm

Join Director Francis Matheu and Set and Costume Designer Mallory Goodman for a lecture on themes related to the play prior to the show this evening. The lecture will not be recorded



This show deals with mature subject matter including coarse language, sexual content, themes of violence towards women, and historical material that may be disturbing for some patrons.

Suitable for ages 16+

Please enquire with the box office for further details: 250-721-8000