Review of Lords and Ladies by Rod Lewis

Reviewer: Rod Lewis
First published in: Adelaide Theatre Guide

Change of town brings out new Discworlders

BRITISH author Terry Pratchett often uses his Discworld series of novels to poke fun at well-known stories and institutions.

In Lords and Ladies, William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream gets the royal flush when King Verence II of Lancre chooses to marry a young witch.

As people flock to the midsummer night celebration, evil elves cast spells of their own to take over the Discworld.

Unlike previous Pratchett plays performed by Unseen, which were set in Ankh Morpork, the action takes place in the town of Lancre, giving the company a broader range of characters.

Katie Packer is wonderful as wilful bride-to-be Magrat Garlick, balanced nicely by Njal Venning’s delightful interpretation of the simple King.

Annelise Van Deth is far too young as Nanny Ogg and needs to learn the value of understatement.

Pamela Munt’s Granny Weatherwax, excellent as she is, seems to mirror Theresa Dolman’s interpretation of the same part in recent Pratchett plays by Burnside Players – right down to sucking in her cheeks.

Sam Priestly, who is usually so dry as Constable Carrot, takes on several characters and shows how adaptable an actor he is.

In an enthusiastic performance as midget lover Casanunder, Gwyn Morfey’s diction is vastly improved from previous plays, and Damien White, normally seen as the Patrician, has finally learned to project his voice as he portrays three minor characters.

Nick Hargeaves, Ann Portus and Sally Fudge are all excellent, while the rest of the cast vary in talent.

The show, enacted on a bare stage with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, could do with more sound and lighting effects.

Although the many scene changes are quick, a few seconds of upbeat bridging music wouldn’t go astray to keep things rolling along.

With the exception of a few moments like the bucket-and-stick dance, which brings the house down, Sean Venning’s direction is stilted and awkward.

The performance space is unobstructed yet masking problems are rife, exacerbated by a lack of movement.

While Venning’s ideas are good, he needs a lot more directorial experience behind him before attempting another complicated, large-cast play such as this.