Lords and Ladies

Thu 20th – Sat 22nd February 2014

reviews

Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 00:49 on 22nd Feb 2014

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Oooook Productions’ adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Lords and Ladies’ was certainly magical. Witches, elves, orang-utans, Morris dancing and toe-curling innuendos were the order of the day, and the audience were thrown from one fantastical scene to the other in a whirlwind of love and laughs.

In the run up to the royal wedding, Granny Weatherwax (Helen Fitzmaurice) and Nanny Ogg (Olivia Race) were concerned that the world of the evil elves was about the cross over with their own. When they were proved right, everyone in the land of Lancre, from the king and soon-to-be-queen (Zach Cave and Alison Middleton) to the drunken villagers had to pull together to stop them.

With a distinctly panto-like feel, there were parts of this play that tended towards the ridiculous. It is clear that it was not intended to be serious, and adapted from a fantasy novel it may be, but certain scenes proved tricky to get right on stage.

Overall the cast was very good, with a lot of strong performances. Nanny Ogg was a favourite from the start, and Race gave a spectacularly funny and heart warming performance. Matthew Elliot-Ripley was marvellous as the love-lorn Munstrum Ridcully, and the carriage scene had everyone in stitches. The on-stage roaming musicians, Emma Gardner and Abi Gardiner, were great additions, and were incredibly effective in creating the eerie, magical atmosphere, the feeling of a land that was alive and crawling with magical beings.

The comedy was the show’s strongest element. Pratchett’s novel parodies parts of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, and the sexual innuendos and connotations throughout, although not subtle, were hilarious to watch. A mixture of clever, satirical comments and outlandish physical comedy meant that there were many moments where the discourse couldn’t be heard over the laughter.

With a fantastical story such as this, the lack of advanced special effects was a barrier. However, the direction by Imo Rolfe was such that we didn’t really care. The costumes by Kacey Courtney, Alžběta Labusová, Harriet Allen, Emma Grisdale were incredible, and helped to set the ethereal elves apart from everyone else. Magrat’s costumes gave an added element of comedy, pointing out hilarity of her trying to assume a role of queen that doesn’t quite fit her until the very end, and signified her changing from and demure outcast to a brave warrior.

With what was a very ambitious piece to try to transfer to the stage, the production team and cast did a good job. As long as the audience were expecting a light-hearted evening of magic and massive phallic symbols and not a serious piece of drama, then they couldn’t fail to have had a good time.

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