Unseen Theatre Company’s stage adaptation of Terry Pratchet’s The Last Continent premiered to an enthusiastic Bakehouse Theatre audience on October 10.
Set in Fourecks – a place very like Australia, but which is not Australia – the overall feel is something like a cross between Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Harry Potter.
Director Pamela Munt has done a good job of adapting the novel for stage and condensing the rather complex plot into a two-hour show.
The play opens in Discworld (“a place where anything can happen or even not happen”), where the wizards of the Unseen University are facing a perplexing dilemma after their librarian turned into an orangutan. In order to work magic on him, they need his name. But unfortunately, no one seems to know it – except Rincewind, our reluctant hero.
Rincewind is living in Fourecks – a red desert that is unbearably hot; the flies are dreadful and it never rains. Also, time doesn’t play fair in Fourecks. The wizards set off in search of Rincewind and end up 20,000 years back in time. It’s now up to Rincewind to save the wizards and Discworld, and bring the rains back to Fourecks.
The only problem is that he doesn’t want to be a hero. In his words: “Dead is only once … but running away is forever.”
Following a Tolkien-esque hero’s journey, Rincewind is assisted by a magical kangaroo and a crocodile that runs the Didyabringabeeralong pub. Sending up both Australian legends and stereotypes, he parodies Mad Max and The Man from Snowy River, and steals the jumbuck that led to our unofficial national anthem, Waltzing Matilda, all on his journey to the town of Buggerup.
There are some great one-liners as the reluctant hero forges through desserts, beers and pie floaters. Alastair Preece is exceptional as Rincewind, as are the other versatile cast members, most of whom adopt several roles.
Terry Pratchet has written 30 six novels in the Discworld series and The Last Continent is the eighteenth play to be performed by the Unseen Theatre Company. Perhaps what lends real authenticity to this particular adaptation is that the author gave express permission to Pamela Munt to adapt the novel from scratch.
“I am honoured by his trust in me and am sure that it has nothing to do with an idea which he may or may not have had that I know more about Australia than he does,” she says.
The Last Continent is showing at the Bakehouse Theatre until October 24 and is a great night out for those who like their theatre full of thong-wearing wizards, pie floaters and Australian humour.