Review of Carpe Jugulum by Stephanie Johnson

Reviewer: Stephanie Johnson
First published in: Australian Stage Online

By Stephanie Johnson.


Discworld has returned to the Bakehouse Theatre in another Pratchett play – Carpe Jugulum. If this means nothing to you then the prolific literary produce of Pratchett has somehow passed you by.

It seems that the theatre going public can be divided into two categories – those who know nothing about Terry Pratchett’s 34 books, and those who are converts.

The former come to see Pratchett’s quirky and satirical wit transcribed from his books into stage plays, with greater and lesser degrees of success. Those who know nothing about Discworld probably assume that it is a modern technological age.

In fact Discworld is a fantasy world that operates in a parallel universe and is populated by witches, vampires and other such fantastical characters.

Unseen’s latest aptly named production Carpe Jugulum, is a tongue-in-cheek poke at vampires, which has been transcribed from his 23rd Discworld novel. It is one of the more appealing in that it offers both lighter and darker moments, and provides some real moments of suspense.

Pamela Munt has always been the epitomy of Granny ‘Esmerelda’ Weatherwax, not too tall and dressed in plain black gown, battered cloak and pointy witch’s hat. In Carpe Jugulum she gives what must be one of her best performances, as Granny faces the dark night of the soul.

At the same time Munt, as director, has delivered a tight and quick paced production. Pratchett’s work often suffers in the transition from book to play, with the stage plays becoming long and unwieldy. Unseen’s Carpe Jugulum has been edited and contained to two hours (including interval). The result is a short, sharp and shiny parade of quirky characters and some great one-liners.

In true melodramatic style, the Vampires from Uberwald have come to seize the witches’ realm by the throat, only to discover it is not that easy. Likewise the witches discover that it is not so easy to rid themselves of the vampire regime. Garlic and stakes just don’t seem to do the trick.

The result is a witty and wicked war between the witches and the vampires.

Larraine Ball is a delightfully laid-back Nanny Ogg and delivers her lines with irony and a lot of humour. Ball’s Nanny is just the right foil for Munt’s darker moments.

Emma Phillips is suitably sweet and sensible as Agnes Nitt, Suzanna Klarin is fresh and entertaining as the sexy and sassy sub-personality Perdita and Kosal Lee successfully takes on the role of Queen Magrat.

The Vampires are lead by Tony Cockington as The Count and Stefania Pulford at the Countess. Sarika Young and Michael Coumi are fun as the Vampire “children” as is Peter Fry as The Mightily Reverend Oats.

However, Philip Lineton steels the comic side of the show eeking every ounce of humour from his role of the Igor, the very unfaithful servant of the vampires. Pratchett, himself, would surely delight to see the manner in which Lineton has brought this character to life.

All in all Pratchett fans are likely to be satisfied with Unseen’s production, and those who have never heard of him could enjoy an introductory foray into Discworld.

Venue: Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street Adelaide
Season: July 4 to 19
Times: Wed to Sat at 8pm
Tickets:  Adults $18, Conc $15, Fringe Benefits $15, Groups (10+) $12