While the world sadly lost Terry Pratchett more than two years ago now, the world that he created was not lost, continuing to inspire and intrigue to this day. Duck in a Hat Theatre’s adaption of Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters sees the cast clearly have a ball immersing themselves in the universe born from the incredible imagination of one man.
While Pratchett’s Discworld is a complex creation which spans many different stories and characters, Duck in a Hat keep it relatively straightforward. End-on staging, a couple of flats for set, medieval costume and not much more. It can be viewed as a bit basic; the show could have benefited from more music to help make the settings and scenes distinct from each other. The same set for the throne room is also the theatre, the dungeon and the street. Small changes would help to avoid confusion as to what is happening where.
But basic does not mean completely ineffective. The play is easy enough to follow, and even finds some time to poke a (broom)stick at the idea of ‘post-truth’ that is of such great relevance today. It is a very easy tale to enjoy, so in some ways there is no need to complicate anything. In keeping it simple and down-to-earth, littered with moments of comedy that guarantee a smile, a very engaging show is produced.
The cast all display convincing acting throughout. The witches take centre stage with their mystic magic and oh-so-Yorkshire accents, while the greedy Duke comes across as a bumbling pantomime version of Ramsay Bolton from Game of Thrones. This is potentially irritating, but it ends up being very entertaining, especially in the last ten minutes when it costs him dearly. There are no bad performances to point fingers at here, and it is always very clear who everyone is and the relationships that they have with each other.
What isn’t too clear is exactly who the play is aimed at. Pratchett is not exactly a children’s author – his books are enjoyed by all ages – but the play seems to be aimed more toward younger audiences. In order to avert a nose dive towards light children’s entertainment, there are some adult references that are thrown in somewhat unnecessarily, and that make the show noticeably less accessible. The innuendos and swearing do not contribute anything and it would have been better to omit them so that Pratchett’s genius could be shared with a more age-diverse audience.
For those who have left childhood behind, however, it is very difficult to leave the show without feeling entertained. Writer Stephen Briggs has delivered a wonderful adaption of the original story, one that is grasped with both hands by the cast who firmly make this play their own. It is not perfect by any means, but definitely entertaining enough to merit ninety minutes of someone’s day. It is a tribute to Pratchett’s genius that his stories continue to entertain long after he put pen to paper.
Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters
Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152)
Until 27th August (not 20th)
Image: Piotr Siedlecki @ PublicDomainPictures.net