It was with genuine excitement and anticipation that I took my seat at The Rondo Theatre in Larkhall for their company’s summer charity performance of Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters on Saturday night (June 24). As a massive Discworld fan and someone who has never seen one of the plays before, I had been looking forward to it ever since I stumbled across the tickets a few weeks ago. This year’s performance was, appropriately, in aid of the Peggy Dodd Centre in Bath that supports those suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Pratchett fans will be relieved to know that the plot isn’t altered from his original novel, loosely based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Following the murder of the Old King, the Lancre
Oven Coven (Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax and Magrat) smuggle the infant prince and his crown out of the country to safety, hiding both with an unsuspecting troupe of travelling players. Driven mad by guilt and his domineering wife, the Duke treats the citizens of Lancre poorly, and the witches decide more meddling is required when it becomes clear that they will be expected to pay taxes in the new regime.
We meet the witches in the first scene on a pared down set featuring a very impressive cauldron and very little else. The chemistry between the three is perfect; Nanny Ogg’s (Angela Giddings) comic delivery and Magrat’s (Gabrielle Finnegan) eccentric naïveté acting as the foil to Granny Weatherwax’s (Nadine Comba) stern realism. The relationship seems easy and natural, making the audience feel relaxed and engaged.
From then on we are treated to some brilliant comedic performances from Iorwerth Mitchell as the Fool and Nic Proud as the Duke in particular, as well as a memorable Sergeant from Richard Chivers.
Director Paul Olding (who also made a presumably last minute appearance in this performance as Vitoller due to ill health), utilised minimalist staging to great effect. The props were well chosen and realistic, some provided by the Museum of Bath at Work. The music was witty and lively, and the lighting and special effects timely and appropriate. Costumes were, for the most part, well put together and as I would have pictured Pratchett’s characters to be clothed with the exception of the Duchess. Unless The Queen of Hearts from Wonderland really is moonlighting in this production.
Incongruously dressed Duchesses aside, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the Rondo Theatre Company’s production of Wyrd Sisters and any real criticism that I have of it is aimed solely at Stephen Briggs’ adaptation.
Discworld fans will guffaw loudly and affectionately at Pratchett’s satirical voice and are likely to return home and immediately dig out old books for re-reading. Those unfamiliar with the plot may struggle to follow what is essentially a series of unconnected scenes with a lot of critical plot details missing. Entertaining yes, but confusing in a way that even the friendly, welcoming Rondo Theatre and its “magic of its own” cannot overcome.