Guards! Guards!

Humour, sacrifices and dragons. Guards! Guards! had it all. Sadly, this was to be Monstrous Productions’ final Pratchett adaptation. We’ve loved every play we’ve seen and we’re gutted it’s all over. This was a fantastic play for them to go out on. We’ve not read the book but will definitely be buying it now. This was another play to feature Sam Vimes and fitting for their final act. Jes Hynes fantastically reprised his role of Vimes from Nightswatch.

Guards! Guards! follows a rather large dwarf, Carrot, played hilariously by Christopher Maxwell, who is sent by his adoptive parents to join Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch. He memorises every rule in the law book. It’s a shame the rest of the city haven’t. He makes his presence known by marching into the Thieves Guild and arresting their president. But a law-abiding Watchman is the least of Vimes’s problems when a Brotherhood steal a book – How to Summon Dragons – and use it to, well, summon a dragon. See, only the rightful king can defeat a dragon so in order for Ankh-Morpork to have a king, there needs to be a dragon. It’s all about destiny. That and a promotion to king’s aide for Lupine Wonse.

Vimes and the rest of the watch are in the Shades when a large dragon incinerates three people. The people’s charred silhouettes on the wall is bound to draw attention, though not as much as a freshly painted wall in the Shades would. But regardless of how dodgy some people are, a giant dragon turning them into ash is bad for morale. With the help of a swamp dragon, Errol, Vimes and his team are tasked with finding and stopping the dragon. That’s not easy when it’s summoned with magic and promptly disappears.

This was the first play that featured the Librarian – a wizard who was accidentally turned into an Orangutang and refuses to be changed back. We love the Librarian in the books so were thrilled he was in this. Lowri Belson was superb as the book-loving ape. She injected so much character and personality into a role where communication was done solely through facial expressions and “ook!” And the occasional “eek!”

The show was hilarious, with added things like Death playing with a fidget spinner, Brother Watchtower replacing his mask with a cat one and Errol flying across the stage on a wire to fight the dragon. What we love about Monstrous Productions plays is the cast always look like they’re thoroughly enjoying themselves. Sets and props used are always minimal and work so well. Everyone was superb in their roles and made this a fantastic play to end on.

We have loved watching the plays and even enjoyed being in one. We’re sad it’s over. So it’s best to sum it up with a quote from the great man: “It’s still magic, even if you know how it’s done.”

Cast:

Sam Vimes – Jes Hynes

Corporal Carrot – Christopher Maxwell

Nobby Nobbs – Josh Flynn

Sergeant Colon – Eamonn Corbett

Lupine Wonse – Josh Stevenson-Hoare

The Librarian – Lowri Belson

Lady Sybil Ramkin – Becca Smithers

Brother Watchtower – Asher Townsend

Brother Dunnykin – Matthew Hitchman

Brother Plasterer – Jamie Gibbs

Brother Doorkeeper – Loz Shanahan

Brother Fingers – Loz Dixon

Dibbler – Harry Spencer

Lord Vetinari – Michael Dickinson-Smith

Death – Matt Burnett

Carrot’s Dad – Pete Belson

First Guard – Matt Edwards

Second Guard – Tony Beard

Urdo Van Pew – Terrance Edwards

First Worthy – Ellen Warren

Second Worthy – Katya Moskvina

Chief Assassin – Gareth While

Archancellor – Steve Durbin

Voice at Door – John B. Dent

First Citizen – Paul Wooley

Second Citizen – Sarah Roberts

Zebbo Mooty – Nick Dunn

Warrior – Richard McReynolds

Bunting Carrier – Howard Dickins

Knowlessman – Bethan Lisles

Servant – Luke Belson

Voice in Crowd – Nelson Cotrim

Crowd – Sarah Burrow

 

Wyrd Sisters

Last night we went to see a production of Wyrd Sisters directed by Amy Davies. No, this wasn’t a play about us ūüėÄ The awesome Monstrous Productions¬†put on plays based on Terry Pratchett books and the proceeds go to Alzheimer’s UK. We love Terry Pratchett’s work so plays based on his books? Yes please! Last January we went to see Mort. And we loved it. You can read our review here. We hadn’t read Wyrd Sisters before going to see the play so didn’t know anything about it. But that doesn’t matter. Even if you’ve never read a Pratchett book, go and see the plays. Even if you don’t like Pratchett, go and see the damn plays. You will be converted.

When we got to the Gate Arts Centre, we didn’t know whether to go into the bar, or hand our tickets in, so we sat on a pew in the corridor and did neither. Socially Awkward Penguin could have been inspired by¬†us. Luckily¬†our mates Tom and Amy and their friend, also called Amy arrived shortly after so we¬†headed to the bar. As soon as we find out when the next play is on, we start nagging¬†people to book ūüėÄ Our tactics¬†would be more effective if we had a large circle of friends, but we work with what we’ve got. Tom and Amy love Pratchett as much as we do, so they don’t need much persuading, which is just as well. It would be be a shame to get skin cells on our thumb screws.

Wyrd Sisters was BRILLIANT. Three witches (Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat) rescue a baby, which turns out to be the recently deceased King Verence’s¬†boy (they name him Tomjon), and give him to travelling players for protection. But when Lord Velmet who is now on the throne, starts harming the land, they decide to fast forward time by fifteen years to put Tomjon on the throne. It has elements of Macbeth and Hamlet in it, with Pratchett’s unique take and sense of humour. A winning combination if you like Shakespeare and Pratchett, which we do. It was hilarious. The audience were laughing most of the way through. For some¬†of the cast, this is their first time of being in a play, but you honestly cannot tell. The acting is superb. There’s no background scenery¬†and¬†few props but it works because you’re completely focused on the actors and the story. If you’ve ever seen the production of Woman In Black you’ll know how effective a minimal set can be.¬†We have short attention spans and get distracted by shinies (and pain in Cat’s knee and Lynx’s back¬†caused by¬†sitting too long) but these guys keep our attention the entire time. You can tell how much everyone enjoys being involved.

Zoe Azzopardi, who played Nanny Ogg, was fantastic. Nanny Ogg was our favourite character. Every line she had was funny. We loved the play within a play (think Hamlet) and the Wyrd Sisters joining the audience to watch it. Having men dress as women for that play was perfect. It really added to the humour. And damn it, the¬†guy¬†who played Lady Felmet¬†looked better in a corset than we do! The Fool played by Lawrence Dixon was excellent¬†and we loved Alex Butterworth’s sultry performance as Lady Felmet. Playing her as a femme fatale¬†suited the character well. All the actors and the crew did a fantastic job.¬†Now when we get round to reading Wyrd Sisters we’ll be able to imagine these guys as the characters.

CAST

Granny Weatherwax- Ellen Warren

Magrat – Lowri Belson

Nanny Ogg – Zoe Azzopardi

Lady Felmet – Alex Butterworth

Lord Felmet – Jes Hynes

The Fool – Lawrence Dixon

Tomjon – Mark Fenn

Hwel – Matthew Hitchman

King Verence – Sam Steele

Mr Vitoller – Terrance Edwards

Demon – Alastair Babington

Sergeant – Edward Duke

Mrs Vitoller – Denyse Cazier

Various – Steph Jezewski, Sarah Roberts, Jackie Creed-Lyons, John Simpson, Nick Dunn, Luke Belson, Daniel Buck, Harry Spencer, Ben Wilson, Callum Roberts.

As we were leaving, one of the actors spotted us and said “I know you. You’re the twins with pink hair. You’re our most famous audience members here tonight.” Was our response¬†full of wit, charm and eloquence? No. We sort of stared at him, confuzzled and said¬†“oh. Ok.” Why are we so damn awkward? Though we have to say, us being the most famous is kind of like having someone who once competed on¬†Gladiators switching on your town’s Christmas lights.But still, we’ll take it as a compliment.

The next production, which is Witches Abroad will be on in April. We’ll buy our ¬†tickets as soon as they go on sale.¬†We hope Monstrous Productions¬†perform¬†every single book in the Discworld series –¬†we will be going to every one ūüôā