Review of Mort (2000) by Rod Lewis

Reviewer: Rod Lewis
First published in: Messenger Newspaper, Adelaide

Fantasy comedy rides on giant turtle’s back
“THERE is no justice. There is only me.”

Such is the philosophy of Death, one of the central characters in Stephen Briggs’ stage adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s quirky Discworld novel, Mort.

The Discworld series of novels revolves around a world which rides on the back of the great A’Tuin, a giant, space-faring turtle.

The story of Mort sees the title character apprenticed to Death, but when Death take a holiday, the inexperienced Mort is left in charge of the soon-to-be-deceased causing no end of mayhem.

With Erik Strauts as director, the Unseen Theatre Company’s premiere production, supported by the Blackwood Players, is innovative, original and lethally funny.

Alastair Brown takes on the main role of Mort with juvenile innocence and an excellent sense of comic timing.

His flair for Pratchett’s style is shared by the rest of the cast, particularly Bruce Alcorn as Death, Harry Probert as Cutwell and Roger Mansfield as the aged wizard Albert.

The obvious comfort of the actors with their characters is only slightly marred by a lack of energy, perhaps due to opening night nerves.

The clever use of a reverberating microphone for Death’s voice is a delightful touch, but creates some difficulty in understanding him at times, particularly since his face is obscured by a skeletal mask.

Bruce Alcorn’s prosthetic make up is the best I can recall seeing in an amateur production and his inspired expertise is matched by the costumes of Pamela Munt, Vi Rowe and several others.

Although Strauts’ direction is creative enough to add many extra touches of humor, more thought may have avoided some of the many blackouts for scene changes renowned in Pratchett plays.

Mort is a complex piece of comedy theatre that ultimately delivers the goods thanks to Briggs’ hysterical script, all round excellent acting and stunning costumes and make up.

If this production is an example of what can be expected by Adelaide’s newest theatre company, then comedy theatre has just achieved new heights.