jurious: Pencil sketch. Based on Stephen Briggs (Vetinari)
[personal profile] jurious
So last night, my friend Bec and I went down to Grantham for a bit of local amdram theatre. It's was the shortest distance I've travelled all year to see a play, I have to say - a whole 15 miles down the road! Makes a change! ;) Heheh. Not that I object to travelling to see plays, but it did break with my "tradition". But anyhoo, I digress...

We went to see Grantham Dramatic Society's production of the Discworld book "Going Postal", as adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs. I'm glad that I finally had a chance to see a Discworld play, and it was an even bigger bonus that, not only was it close to home, but it was "Going Postal", which is certainly one of my favourite Discworld books. (Also, I had entered and won the competition the GDC had run to design a stamp to go on their programme and promo material, and there's nothing quite so cool as to see a piece of your artwork mass-reproduced on posters, leaflets and programmes when you go to see a play! Plus, when your name is printed on the promo material, in the company of Terry Pratchett's and Stephen Briggs', it's more than a wee bit awesome! So, of course, I bought a programme and picked up a leaflet and asked if I cold have a poster too. :3 They can go in my portfolio if nothing else.)

The programme, complete with my stamp design!

So the play... let's talk about that. The first thing worthy of note is, by God, the stage adaptation is so much better than the film! I like but don't love the film; it's so far removed from the novel in places you wonder what the point of it was. The stage play is more true to the book, for which I'm thankful.

The play was performed at the Guildhall Arts Centre in Grantham which has a cushy little theatre in it with comfy seats ascending on an incline. (We had excellent seats only 5 rows from the front!) The stage was a good size, too, and is the first venue I've been to this year (including the big ones in London) which had -- and used -- a curtain! Heheh. (Bed and I did suffer from our usual amdram curse of being sat near someone who decided to chat at times during the performance - though thankfully, not too much in this case!)

There appeared to be a large cast involved in the production with varying levels of skill and experience between them.

Moist von Lipwig was played with attitude by Chris Dakin, and though he perhaps lacked the likeable charisma I feel the character should embody, he nevertheless did an excellent job and carried off the gold suit with aplomb. (His little goatee was slightly distracting, but that's a tiny quibble!)

Stanley, Vetinari, Moist von Lipwig, Adora Belle, Reacher Gilt and Mr Groat, with Pump 19 the Golem at the back

Lord Vetinari was an initial surprise for he was played by a woman (though not *as* a woman, if must be clarrified). Kay Haw (who also produced the show) was an absolute delight as the Patrician, giving the character gravitas and ruling the stage with a quiet but undeniable tyranny all of her own. She got Vetinari's mannerisms near-enough down-pat and knew just how to deliver his lines to maximum effect, raising a few chuckles with her character's own brand of subtle and dark humour. There were a few slightly camp moments, which were not quite as Vetinari-ish as I'd like (the little wiggle that accompanied the "hemp fandango" line was, for example, quite funny, but not really very Lord V), but overall she did a cracking job and really seemed to know her character well, which is always good because he has such a pivotal role in this play.

Kay Haw as Lord V with added wig, eyebrows and beard

Drumknott was also played by a woman, Gail Meakin, who opted to play him as though he truly harboured some fears toward his master, which isn't an approach I expected. She also shared one of the issues which afflicted a few members of the cast and that was an inability to throw her voice, but nevertheless she was smartly dressed and had the bearings of a loyal clerk, if not quite Drumknott's professionally emotionless manner.

Kudos go to Tony Lane who embodied every inch of Reacher Gilt's overbearing character, and who lorded it up in Gilt's flashy clothes, long hair and eye patch. He was perfectly cast, and was ably assisted by his fellow Grand Trunk business partners -- Horsefry and Greenyham in particular spring to mind. Gilt's Igor (young Rupert Tyrer) added comic relief with his process of ambling on to the stage and rolling out Reacher Gilt's rug in each scene set at Gilt's home, and the audience responded well to his exaggerated mannerisms - a nice bit of acting there. Tyrer returned later on as Mad Al and was brilliantly expressive in that part, too, so I'm sure he'll be an actor to watch in future.

Horsefry, Mr Pony, Reacher Gilt (seated), Nutmeg and Mr Slant

In turn, the cast of the delightful Post Office staff were excellent. Kevin O'Neill was every inch Tolliver Groat, to the point where one wasn't quite sure whether he was playing a bumbling old man really well, or was genuinely bumbling on his lines! (A bit of both, we think, but he was so delightful!) Stanley was also amazing, played with wild eccentricity and more than a little bit of madness by Mark Brown. His tirades on pins were hilarious, as was his later conversion to being an avid stamp collector. He had a great camaraderie with his fellow cast members and delivered a fabulously funny performance.

There were some nice turns by the rest of the cast, too - Suzanne Stevens-Brewin as Sacharissa, for example, and Jerry Hall as the downtrodden Mr Pony - but the show was perhaps stolen by the Golem, Mr Pump, who was decked out in the most amazing costume, complete with glowing eyes and mouth and a little opening head piece for his "chem". We didn't realise until the end that his actor had a microphone hook-up under the costume, too -- we thought a separate person was doing the voiceover over a mic' system! -- so credit to him for an amazing performance! He was an undoubted hit - the audience loved him.

The set pieces and props were all fabulous - worthy of note in particular was some of the beautifully painted scenery. (Also, my stamp was printed on one of the props along with the traditional Lord V stamp - very cool!)

If there were any criticisms, it was, as aforementioned, the need for some of the cast to learn to throw their voices a bit more because some of them were too quiet - when you can't hear them very well from row E and the theatre goes back to at least row P, you know a bit of practice is required. I'm sure nerves perhaps played a part in that. Also there was a small episode of line-forgetting in the second half - not a lot, but it's a bit distracting when you can hear someone off-stage handing lines to people. Bless them! But of course, none of that matters much really because the show was well-staged and a lot of fun, with lots of effort having clearly been put into the performance, including the cool bits of music and lighting effects. :) And I can hardly criticise when I'm personally terrified of getting on a stage and performing in front of people!

So, all-in-all, a big well done to the cast and crew of the GDC and massive thanks for bringing some Pratchett to the East Midlands! Please say we'll be seeing more in future! :)


jurious: Pencil sketch. Based on Stephen Briggs (Default)
Grace Francis

December 2011

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