Wyrd Sisters

(Nash Theatre)


If you’re going to break the rules, you’d best break them good and hard, or so thinks Granny Weatherwax in the theatre adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters.

Based on the novel of the same name from the popular Discworld series by Pratchett, this is, true to form, full of quirky characters and lashings of satire, borrowing heavily from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The plot centres on three witches in the remote and mountainous Kingdom of Lancre, and their meddling in the affairs of state following the “accidental” death of King Verence.

Typical of Terry Pratchett’s work, the Wyrd sisters’ characters are full of personality and quirks, with a dippy Duke, a tantrum-prone Duchess, three manipulative witches, and an intelligent fool.

The Stephen Briggs adaptation manages to condense the rather action-packed novel into the constraints of a play, taking dialogue straight from the pages of the book.

Director James Hudson extracts a good and consistent level of energy from his performers, and stage manager Jonathan Collins choreographs the many transitions between scenes seamlessly.

Sets (Sue Watson and Harry Milner) and lighting (Greg Larson and Phil Carney) are constructed and employed in such a way as to create appropriate atmosphere, and ensure that all attention is on the action occurring in each scene. Sets and props are relatively simple, but clearly well-thought out, adding nicely to the strength of the performance.

The music, unfortunately not live, is aptly chosen, setting the scene well for the start of the play, and maintaining the atmosphere in between acts.

Costumes are very well done, but one can’t help but wonder if the male cast members wouldn’t prefer a slightly longer shirt and tights combination.

The cast, overall, does a fine job of portraying the rather strong personalities of their characters.

The Duke (James Hudson) is finely nuanced, and very well acted at all times.

Young Magrat Garlick, apprentice witch in the coven, is not exactly true to the character from the novel, but maintains a consistent performance. Witch Granny Weatherwax, played by Brenda Keith-Walker, similarly does not match exactly the character portrayed in the book, but instead maintains all the important traits of the forceful personality, with an added measure of class.

Nanny Ogg (Valerie Silver), rounding out the coven, is appropriately earthy and plain-speaking, as well as engaging. Duchess Felmet, played by Amanda Harper, is played with an emphasis on her character’s overbearing and demanding nature. The not-so-foolish Fool Alex Smith is engaging, and played just right, neither over or under-acting the more quiet and thoughtful character.

Special mention should also go to Laura McKenna, on stage for only a brief time in her roles as the demon, and later Hwel, the dwarf playwright, for injecting life and humour each time she takes to the stage.

Overall, it’s a fine amateur performance of the stage adaptation of Wyrd Sisters. An entertaining night out, in a small community environment.

— Lara Lauth
(Performance seen: Fri 8th July 2011)