FRIDAY, 17 JUNE 2011
THEATRE: Wyrd Sisters
STEPHEN HORNE – Indaily
TERRY Pratchett’s Discworld is a strange place indeed. So strange that at times it resembles a slightly distorted version of our own world.
In this latest Pratchett adaptation from Unseen Theatre Company, we are treated to witches (both real and fake), a fool who is the most intelligent person in the land, a playwright seemingly resembling the Bard, anxious guards and the ghost of the recently murdered King. There’s an immaculately turned-out scheming duchess, a simperingly evil duke, witches learning their craft by quoting from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, daggers that turn out to be handkerchiefs, and a storyline involving a baby saved from certain death by the witches and sold to a travelling theatrical group. If all this was not enough, we have not one, but two deaths to deal with.
Contemporary issues are alluded to throughout, including a lesson for politicians on how to get away with chopping down a forest in the interests of better serving the community. A trainee witch, complete with L-plate broom, observes that you don’t choose the “craft”, it chooses you – a reference to another long-standing profession.
The large ensemble cast is well handled by director Pamela Munt, with an even performance from all. The characters manage to not bump into the sets by being actively involved in its setting up and moving throughout the performance. In the first half this is done discreetly under the cover of dimmed lighting, but it becomes a feature of the action in the chaotic post-interval session as “real” characters, “fake” actors and stage-hands are all racing around the stage in a flurry of well-choreographed activity.
The scene and storyline are set up, at times a little laboriously, in the first half, while the second descends into absolute (intended) chaos, as we have a play within a play with incompetent actors playing out the story of the first half. All this is directed by a maniacal Bard losing his grip and control over proceedings. You’ll need your wits about you to keep up with everything, but it is worth the effort and there are many good laughs to be found throughout this clever piece. The real characters take over from the incompetent “fake” versions and the dagger referred to in the first half turns out not to be not a handkerchief but …. a dagger!
All this somehow resolves itself with birthrights being reluctantly claimed, long lost sibling connections discovered and the evil duke falling off the battlements … eventually!
The whole group performs admirably, but special mention must be made of the performances of Pamela Munt, Therese Hornby and newcomer Lucy Haas-Hennessy as the “real” witches; Marlon Dance-Hooi as the intelligent Fool; James Loader and Samm Blackmore as Duke and Duchess; Hugh O’Connor as Death and Hwell the Bard, and Leighton James as Tomjohn.
– Until June 25