Review of Guards! Guards! by Rod Lewis

Reviewer: Rod Lewis
First published in: Adelaide Theatre Guide

Good work from Pratchett guardian

UNSEEN Theatre Company was formed specifically to produce Terry Pratchett’s funny fantasy stories, and this one, adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs, excels with a minimum of props and scenery.

In the fictional land of Discworld, the Elucidated Brethren of Ebon Night steal a book of magic and terrorise the city of Ankh-Morpork by conjuring up a giant dragon.

Fans of Pratchett will be delighted by director Pamela Munt’s simplistic creation of this fantastic world that rides upon the back of the great space-faring turtle called A’Tuin.

Through lighting and sound effects and ample imagination, Munt’s Discworld comes to life filled with magic, beasts, warriors and dwarfs.

Although the play – the company’s second after Mort – moves as slowly as A’Tuin at times, particularly during the lengthy first act, the quirky characterisations and creative touches keep things interesting. And a few more performances should see a much tighter presentation.

The 18 cast members vary from good to the exceptional with Pete Davies, Melanie Munt, Bruce Alcorn, Danny Sag, Richard Burgess and Chris Irving the standouts.

Melanie Munt, in particular, is a delight. She plays Footnote, interrupting the play regularly to explain particular words or situations, her giant, asterix-topped staff reminding us that she is indeed, a footnote to the action.

Sharman Gilchrist’s costumes, ranging from that of Death to an orang-utan, are detailed and stunning, a highlight of the show.

In contrast to those in Unseen Theatre’s first journey to Discworld, Mort, the sets are kept to a minimum, with basic furniture representing the settings of the play.

An efficient backstage crew whiz through the scene changes, but Neil Waller on lighting and sound is a devastating letdown. His cues are, figuratively speaking, all over the show.

Despite that setback, this company imaginatively brings Pratchett’s quirky, laugh-a-minute fable to life.