Dark and twisted tale leaves audience haunted

Cold Woman’s gender-blending is convincing because of the believable acting (Julia Whalen/AQ)

Cold Woman: New Brunswick’s Murderess interpreted six different aspects of Sophia Hamilton’s life.

The production was put on by the Next Folding Theatre Company featuring six actors, six directors and six writers. They all portray the story of Sophia Hamilton, a mythical serial killer from the 19th century.

There is no record of her, except for a “moral pamphlet” written by William H. Jackson in 1845. He chronicled her life after a visit to The York County Jail before she was supposedly scheduled to be hung on April 8, 1843.

Six actors performed parts in Hamilton’s life story at the Ted Daigle Auditorium at St. Thomas University. Opening night was Nov. 15 and the play ran for two days. Fredericton’s Ryan Griffith was the artistic director.

Each actor played a part in writing and directing the story of Sophia, loosely based off the information in Jackson’s pamphlet.

Hamilton’s story begun with her being auctioned off to the highest bidder by her mother. Her marriage was short lived, leaving her a widow very early.

It remains to be seen if her husband died of a long illness as Hamilton says, or from poison given to Hamilton by her sister before she was wed.

As a young widow, she opened an inn. Each man would mysteriously disappear after entering her doors.

A slow progression showed Hamilton’s gang doing the deed until she started to get her own hands dirty. Mistrust built, especially from one employee that was foolish enough to divulge what he thought he saw to a customer.

Throughout the story, the audience is given clues into her troubled background with a nasty mother and swirling rumors about a murderer for a father.

Mailmen became suspicious of Hamilton after a missing man failed to pick up a letter from his worried wife.

The story ends with Jackson’s visit to the jail, where he gives her a bottle of poison so she can chose whether to be hanged in public or die in privacy.

Each actor wrote their own scene that tells the audience what they thought was important. Each actor also played multiple characters.

Although at times it may have been difficult to figure out who was who, it was always clear which actor was Sophia Hamilton. Each actor that portrayed her brought a different aspect of her life to the stage.

Fredericton’s Jeremy Fowler was one of the six actors. He dressed as a woman while in the role of Hamilton, therefore he wasn’t aesthetically convincing in the role.

But he made up for it with a stellar performance recreating a scene when the ghost of an innocent boy haunts her.

St. Thomas University student Julia Whalen seduced the audience as Hamilton, teasing one of the men that entered her inn. In another scene, Whalen’s monologue as Hamilton gives the audience a look into the twisted mind of a “daddy’s little girl.”

Fredericton’s Emily Bossé shows off Hamilton’s sadistic side, as well as her vanity. Bossé plays Hamilton in the last scene, depicting Jackson’s visit. Alex Donovon plays Jackson, playing up her ego and encouraging her to confess to her actions to clear up the rumors.

“You will be infamous rather than just promiscuous.”

The play is an entertaining mix of evil, angry table flipping and nasty song lyrics about Hamilton’s “open legs.”

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