Review of Mort (2003) by Tim Lloyd

Reviewer: Tim Lloyd
First published in: The Advertiser
Date of review: 21 October 2003

TERRY Pratchett’s tale of Death’s apprentice Mort, and his sentimental approach to his job, has been presented in many forms.

Stephen Briggs’s adaptation, though, has an eye strictly for Pratchett’s funniest lines, while paying patchy attention to the plot. Unseen Theatre Company is a good example of young people’s community theatre having a good night out.

The production is all over the place but from the front-of-house vendors to the cheery door prize presentations and the very strange dance number from Les Miserables, there is a winning good-heartedness to the whole.

The audience responded in kind on opening night and the outing took on the tone of a family game of charades.

The huge cast negotiates its way through the gothic, labyrinthine plot of Mort without the least affectedness. Danny Sag, as the Doorknocker, manages to deliver his lines clearly despite holding the knocker in his mouth. Sam James, as Death, is so heavily bemasked in a skull mask and emerald eyes that there is genuine concern from the audience when he tries to walk through a wall and fails.

Tim Bates is accomplished as Mort, mixing incompetence and sorcerer’s apprentice arrogance in equal parts. Other strong performances come from Miriam Keane as Death’s daughter Ysabel, and Erin Stockie as the accidentally undead Princess Keli.

The full humour of this piece is brought to life by Andrew Dowling as Igneous Cutwell – the incompetent wizard enlisted to help Mort and Princess Keli – who squeezes every ounce of humour from his lines and makes everyone else seem twice as funny to boot.

A lot of energy has gone into this high-spirited production which succeeds at delivering Pratchett at his funniest.