Thief of Time

Thu 14th – Sat 16th February 2013

reviews

Nathaniel Zacharias

at 01:04 on 15th Feb 2013

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Tim Foster’s adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novel Thief of Time is a very good staging of the piece.

It follows the apprenticeship of Lobsang Ludd to a senior monk, Lu-Tze whose order of monks guard the passage of time through history. On the other side of the universe are the Auditors who have decided that the world is descending into chaos and so Time needs to be stopped. The Auditors henceforth commission a clock that will bring an end to humanity. The rest of the story pits the mission of guarding Time against the other mission of destroying the same. The humour is clean, the running jokes are aplenty and the characters are likeable.

Of noteworthy likeable-ness is Lu-Tze (Kalil Copley) who will keep you entertained throughout the evening. Breaking away from the stereotype of senior monks, his eccentricity and non-orthodox approach to life is marvelously captured. His facial expressions and gestures match his well-enunciated lines perfectly. Also an audience favourite is Igor (Chaz Pitman) whose good heart (and spare heart) towards his master can be felt emanating from his daft eyes, wonky smile and a friendly limp in his step. Despite having to speak with a lisp, I understood everything he said in the context of which it was said; a true feat of skillful acting. Myria LeJean (Eve Bontoft) gave an excellent portrayal of her constantly growing character. The development from a robot-like Auditor who feels human attraction for the first time and later perfects her human nature by looking forward to death is wonderfully acted out. Lobsang Ludd and Jeremy Clockson (both by Zach Cave) were challenging roles to take on simultaneously and weren’t accurately reflected in character, largely due to delivery of speech that felt forced rather than natural. Among the lesser characters, the Abbot (Murray Adcock) stood out for great technique in character; the scrunched up face and hesitant breathing were apt for an Abbot.

If you’re like me, having never read Terry Pratchett’s novels, you will find this piece of theatre to be full of metaphors on time, life and what it means to be human. These metaphors are easy to catch and are fun to decipher in the play. The exposition and part of the rising action is simple enough to enact, but as the storyline descends into conflict and approaches its climax, the post-apocalyptic world and the dimension of time-death becomes difficult to put into a play. Because of this, the director (Emma Grisdale) seems to have presented the scenes preceding the intermission much better than the scenes proceeding it. Not enough thought went into the setting for many scenes in the second half. The director could have better employed the stage space at her disposal to that effect. It is written that the best things in life come in small quantities; pancake syrup, for example, and vodka shots – too much and you feel sick. The same is true with the use of the smoke machine *hint*hint

All in all, this is a play full of epic catchphrases that you will want to use in daily speech given by lovable and hilarious characters. For the more deep-thinking among you, this play will spark some thought on what faculties of the body make us human (the more adventurous can ponder what role chocolate plays in our life). Most importantly, this play will teach you never to underestimate a man with a broom.

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Patty McCabe

at 17:08 on 16th Feb 2013

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My only experience of Sir Terry Pratchett has been on the stage. Unlike most people in the audience, I did not grow up on a diet of the Discworld books and I am yet to turn over the first page of one. Last year, however, I somehow stumbled into Ooook!’s production of the Nightwatch and found myself totally caught up in the fast paced tale of quirky characters, delightful quippery and lunacy. Being more of a Duchess of Malfi kind of girl, it still amazes me that not only did the production win me over but that I have chosen to come back for more.

I found my second helping of Pratchett to be a little less delectable. Thief of Time tells the story of Lobsang Ludd who is placed under the tutelage of the legendary sweeper monk, Lu-Tze. Meanwhile in Ank-Morpork, Jeremy Clockson embarks on constructing the Discworld’s first truly accurately clock; a clock that The Auditors hope will stop time and eliminate the unpredictability of the humans. With the help of Ms. Susan and a renegade auditor, Lu-Tze and Lobsang set out to destroy the clock. Although I had a basic understanding of the plot I still found it hard to follow, very fast paced and a little disjointed at times. Despite the introductory video and voice over that provided a background to the Discworld franchise, prior knowledge of the novel would have been helpful in understanding the intricacies of the plot although it does not spoil one’s enjoyment of the comical, witty and endearing characters that held the play together.

Considering that the performance takes the characters through settings that range from a monastery, the city of Ankh-Morpork and a humble clockmaker’s shop, the Assembly Rooms were used to their full potential. Forays into the audience were not a miss and one was often surprised to turn round to find the odd history monk or auditor coming at you from behind! Both the stage sets and costumes were well designed and the technical crew used all effects at hand to transport the audience from the humble Assembly Rooms into the warped world of Pratchett. Of course, there were little reminders such as the appearance of the botched restoration attempt of the Spanish Fresco which served as an example of just how difficult painting could be.

Even if the plot was a little hard to follow at times, the wit and wordplay in the script, much to the credit of Tim Foster, and the strength of the cast held the performance together. Kalil Copely (Lu-Tze) had the audience in stitches by incessantly quoting Mrs Cosmopilite’s kitchen sink wisdom in a shrill yet worldly tone. Zack Cave as both Lobsang Ludd and the awkward Jeremy Clockson held his own against his master as a presence on stage. By far the best performance of the night must have been Chaz Pitman as Igor. His hunched back and gruff voice never slipped and he was as constant in his characterisation as he was in ability to make the audience erupt into fits of laughter. Obviously his role in the production could only correspond to the role given to him in the book but I would have loved to have seen more of him on stage. It was after all characters such as Igor that drew me into the Discworld in the first place.

Despite being a little hard to follow at times, Ooook! Production’s Thief of Time did not fail to delight and entertain. It was clear from the script itself which had been adapted from the novel by Tim Foster, the stage sets and costumes designs, and the strength of the cast that this performance had taken an exceptional amount of time and commitment. Thief of Time was fun, quirky and suitably bizarre – the perfect remedy to a cold February night!

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