‘Wyrd Sisters’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by June 16, 2016

‘Wyrd Sisters’ is Sir Terry Pratchett’s sixth Discworld, comic fantasy novel. It was published in 1988 and had a Fan Club that would make any pop singer jealous.
Sir Terry was born in Beaconsfield, North West London in 1948, and sadly died a year ago after completing 41 novels – selling 85 million copies, being second only to J. K. Rowling. He died of Alzheimer’s and of a natural death, although he had requested ‘help’ should he reach this stage.
His first story was printed in his school magazine when he was only 13, and then commercially published 2 years later.
This 2-hour play was adapted for the stage – with more than a hint of satire – by Stephen Briggs, an actor living in Abingdon on Thames, who simply asked Pratchett if he would mind his adapting the book for the stage. Sir Terry was so pleased with the result that he sent all of his books to Briggs for adaption.
This fun show has curtain up at 8.00 each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night until 9th July. There are also Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm. It is presented by the Darlington Players and can be seen at the welcoming Marloo Theatre, Marloo Road, off Greenmount Hill, Mundaring.

DEAF and HARD OF HEARING  Wednesday 22nd June enjoy Terry Pratchett’s ‘Wyrd Sisters’ with AUSLAN SIGNING by Christy Filipich

 

It is Mediaeval England. There are several, very different scenes. The flats, which cover the full width of the stage, are built on castors so they can rotate. Some flats are like books with a few pages on each revolve. Owen Davis’s scenery was bright, quirky and superbly built. Between scenes, 4 or 5 stagehands could make the change in seconds; even when the crown room with a dais and two thrones was turned into the witches kitchen, with workbench, two armchairs and a table – 8 seconds! That must be one of the best-organised and speediest crews ever (stage manager David Bain, ASM Belinda Beatty, James Scott, Guy Jackson). The props were unusual and very demanding on the poor Lesley Sutton.
The lighting design (Mike Smale) was complex and well planned, picking out the actors as they moved around the stage. The two follow spots were operated by Emma Dee and Charlie Montgomery. The sound effects (Alice Carroll) were crisp and perfectly cued – a few zany effects brought belly laughs.
The costumes ranged from witch Ogg’s tat, to Lady Felmet’s gown, from the soldiers’ uniforms to the town’s peasants. A great deal of thought had been carefully sewn into every garment. Marjorie DeCaux at her very best.

        To the sound of thunder we meet the three witches, the Wyrd Sisters; they are the highly regarded and tough old bird, Granny Weatherwax (Fi Livings), mother of fifteen Nanny Ogg (Chantelle Pitt), and Magrat Garlick (Alisha Napier), an apprentice witch who believes in the old fashioned methods of magic involving covens and cauldrons. They are discussing the recent murder of King Verence (Rachel Vonk).
        The Wyrd Sisters see a peasant (Verity Lux) fleeing the evil Duke Felmet (Ryan Marano), who has the Lady Macbeth syndrome of constantly cleaning his hands. Now that Felmet has become King, his cruel, mercenary wife, Lady Felmet (Taneal Thompson) demands that the taxes are collected. The peasant has in her breadbasket a baby – the newly born prince, who is rightful heir to the throne. However, a bowman (Thomas Outred) shoots the peasant and the witches rescue the infant, Tomjon. They give him to a childless, loving couple of touring actors, Mr Vitoller (Ryan Marano) and Mrs Vitoller (Kathleen ‘Martha’ Nyland).
        Whilst in their kitchen, the witches are visited by a Demon (Molly O’Hehir) who warns them of the troubles ahead.
         The witches realise that it will be at least 15 years before the prince will be able to rule, so with advanced magic, they travel forward in time.
Felmet sends the court Fool (Billy Darlington – delightful) to find the performers’ troupe, and Tomjon (Lochland Baynham) who is now a talented actor. The court jester sees Magrat being robbed by a conman (Aryan Menon) saves her and falls in love. Duke Felmet fears Tomjon will take his rightful place as King, so he orders a playwright Hwel (Suzy June Wakeling) to weaken the witches powers by writing a play that mocks them.
        The witches trick their way past the guards (Verity Bruce, Sabrina O’Brien) at the castle gate. The witches meet the ghost of the King who tells them how Felmet stabbed him. Felmet sends out his soldiers to capture the crones, but instead they encounter a set of actors dressed as witches (Rosemary Bruce, Sabrina O’Brien, Martha Nyland, Kira Pearce).
        Felmet’s Sergeant (Kayleigh Lux) catches the real witches, and his soldiers (Kira Pearce, Glenda Napier) throw them into prison.

Will the witches escape? What will happen to the Duke and Lady Felmet? Will Tomjon become King?

The script has numerous amusing links to Shakespeare’s plays, especially ‘Macbeth’.
I think this may be the first major production directed by Harrison MacLennan, who was ably assisted here by Guy Jackson. With a massive cast to handle and some actors as young as 12 yrs. (Molly O’Hehir – a star in the making?), I was expecting the show to stagger through. However, EVERY member of the cast was superbly rehearsed and totally focused. There were no vacant faces when other actors were talking, and everyone acted with their bodies and faces. Good, solid and natural performances from this young team. The magnificent witches had some hilarious lines, delivered with perfect comedic timing.
The entrances and exits worked smoothly, even when a dozen actors were involved.
This is a complex script, and so was a major undertaking; but the direction is so clear and the performances so confident that children from 8 yrs. and up will enjoy the madness. Great fun.