Thursday, 21 July 2016

REVIEW: Lords and Ladies at Newcastle People’s Theatre

Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies
Newcastle People’s Theatre
Until Saturday 23rd July 2016

Newcastle’s People’s Theatre may be under a major redevelopment this week but it doesn’t stop them producing a great, fun production. They bring Terry Pratchett’s much loved Discworld to life in a production that sees the return of the fabulous Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. The show works well on 2 levels: it is pure entertainment but; you can draw parallels with the current world situation.

Photo: Paula Smart
Terry Pratchett is the author who went from being the press officer for Central Electricity Generating Board’s nuclear power sector to best-selling writer of both adult and children’s fiction.  Many of his books centre on Discworld - a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A'Tuin.  In what was less of a parody and became more of a tribute to the likes of Tolkien, we were introduced to a number of great characters and institutions. The Unseen University is the great seat of magical learning – a place in which the concentration of magic has turned the librarian into an orang-utan. We also have a group of witches who attempt to keep the balance and order.

Photo: Paula Smart
Which brings us to Lords and Ladies. Discworld has enjoyed peaceful times for some time. Evil has been defeated though that doesn’t stop some people referring to them as fun times. Granny Weatherwax (Kath Frazer) isn’t happy and is noticing that the troubles could be returning with the reappearance of crop circles. Her friend Nanny Ogg (Val Russell) is fully aware of her friend’s track record. Distracting the pair of them is the fact that their apprentice Magrat (Sarah Scott) is due to marry the King (Stuart Laidler). The big royal wedding will involve a large number of guests, including a contingent from the Unseen University, which in turn will see some old flames return to the scene. The “Lords and Ladies” is more of a euphanism for the evil elves (Sebastian Potthoff, David Parker, Aphra Holland Bonnett, Ben Heathcote, Polly Chedgzoy). They have been quiet but the young witches on the block, led by Diamanda (Jessica Chapman), is unknowingly stirring up trouble for the people of Lancre. Will the wedding be a success? Will the young witches upstage Granny Weatherwax? Why are the elves lurking in the background? All becomes apparent in this amusing production.

Photo: Paula Smart
Irana Brown has carefully adapted this popular Pratchett novel spoofs elements of Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Director Hugh Keenan has kept tight control on a story that needs a steady hand on the tiller if the various elements are to be understood by the audience. The acting is great – the witches are as you’d imagine them from the book.  The wizards are suitably air-headed and Casanunda (John MacDonald) is suitably dashing. Special mention also goes to poor Ruth Gibson who spends the hottest week of the decade so far in an orange orang-utan suit.  She makes a great librarian. This was a much more pleasing production than People’s previous Pratchett adaptation, Carpe Jugulum. Well worth seeing.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Lords and Ladies arrives at the People’s Theatre in Newcastle from Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd July 2016
TICKETS: £13.50 (Concessions £11)

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