Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade:
Adapted by Stephen Briggs
Directed by Steve Beeston
Presented by Brisbane Arts Theatre
Season: 14 September – 12 October. Duration 2.5 hours including interval. Bookings: https://www.artstheatre.com.au/maskerade
Blending Terry Pratchetts Discworld with a parody of Phantom of the Opera, Maskerade has a lot to offer audiences. It is a funny, clever script which places iconic Pratchett characters into the world of Musical Theatre complete with sly references to characters from classic British Television such as Frank Spencer and Mrs Bouquet.
Agnes Nitt has left Lancre to seek a career at the Ankh-Morpork Opera House, where she is chosen to be a member of the chorus because, despite having an amazing voice, she doesn’t quite fit the visual mould needed. Here she meets a young ingénue named Christine who, although she fits these requirements perfectly, can’t sing.
In the meantime Granny Weatherwax has discovered that Nanny Ogg has written a ‘cookbook’ but not been adequately paid by the publisher, so they decide to travel to Ankh-Morpork to collect the money and hopefully persuade Agnes to join their coven.
In the meantime the Opera House Ghost has decided to commit seemingly random murders, and requests that Christine be given lead roles in upcoming productions. Hearing about this, Granny and Nanny decide to stick around and try to solve the mystery. What ensues is an entertaining journey filled with Discworld humour and a few red herrings.
This is all played out by a talented ensemble cast of 18, some of whom portray multiple roles. The standout scenes were those between Granny Weatherwax (John Grey) and Nanny Ogg (Sally Daly) with their wonderfully wacky characters, relationship, and sense of fun, and Seldom Bucket (Aubry Thonon) and Mr. Salzella (Callum Pulsford) whose encounters bristled with energy and pace.
Other notable performances came from Tallulah M. E. Gray as Agnes Nitt who not only has a great voice, but a wonderful sense of the character, Nick Daly as the theatre’s odd job man, Walter Plinge, (with a very distinctive way of knocking on doors), and Madeline Harper as Christine, who strikes just the right sense of naivety.
Direction of scenes, use of space, set pieces and costumes all worked well, and although there was an unexpected hiccup with the lighting in Act One, the lighting design was back on form for Act Two.
This is a good adaptation, and you don’t need to be overly familiar with the Pratchett world to follow and enjoy the story. Overall this is an entertaining production, the level of which could be lifted a little with the improvement of the pace within some scenes, smoother scene changes, and volume and clarity from some performers.