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

 

The Amazing Maurice

Since we first heard of Monstrous Productions a few years ago, we have been to every play. This year, we were faced with the unpleasant realization that we were going to miss one, due to being in Doncaster for Digicon. Fortunately, director Amy Davies kindly spared us the sadness of missing their latest play by allowing us to come to the tech run, as we’ve been part of the company when we played the snake twins in Witches Abroad.

And we’re so grateful for that or we would have missed a fantastic play.

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents follows streetwise tomcat Maurice and his educated rat friends. They’re educated due to eating magic-tainted waste thrown out by the Unseen University. This has allowed them to think and speak and develop a love of stories. Every town in Discworld knows that the best way to get rid of rats is to hire a piper who leads them to a river. (Don’t tell anyone rats can swim.) So Maurice has come up with a plan to make money – the rats invade a town, gnaw on wood, widdle on food and generally behave like the uneducated rats. Then Maurice found a stupid looking kid – Keith – who can play the pipe. He leads the rats out of town and collects the money, which Maurice looks after.

Then they visit the town of Bad Blintz and their plan is discovered by a young, story-loving girl, Malicia, who is convinced that everything has a plot – including life. And there’s the slight problem of other rat catchers being in town who capture rats not to kill them, but to make them fight terriers. Darktan, played by Josh Stevenson-Hoar, is military minded and organises the rats into three camps: Widdlers, Trap Experts and Food Destroyers. Their mission is to cause as much chaos as possible. One rat, Peaches, is obsessed with a story called Mr Bunnsy Has An Adventure and believes it’s real. She uses it as a guide and carries it everywhere she goes. Hamnpork is old and grumpy and convinced Darktan is trying to take over as leader. He is captured by the ratcatchers and put in the terrier ring but Darktan abseils down to rescue him and fights off the dog himself. The rats get their names from food tins and packages.

Then of course, the real Piper shows up. He’s paid far more money than Maurice and his educated rodents are. Keith challenges him to a pipe-off. Sardines, the tap dancing rat, dances for Keith. No rats respond to the Piper as they have cotton wool in their ears. Keith is then given the job as the town’s Piper.

Maurice was played fantastically by Matthew Hitchman. Being owners of 5 cats (12 in our lifetime) we can say that his was a very realistic portrayal of a cat. Becca Smithers, who played Malicia did a great job of being an overenthusiastic know-it-all. All of the actors played their parts brilliantly and it was nice seeing new faces as well as the regular cast. There wasn’t a single bad performance and the actors’ enjoyment of their roles really shows.

The set and props were the most ambitious yet, with shed walls for the rat catchers’ hut and a white screen with shadow puppets for the fighting ring. Clever lighting was used to represent a man hole cover in the sewers. There was also a brilliant use of red lighting and a scary voice recording for the King Rat to show it in Maurice and the rats’ minds. It added a chilling element to what was otherwise, a very funny play. There was also an excellently choreographed fight scene between Maurice and several of King Rat’s minions, which resulted in the deaths of Maurice and Dangerous Beans. But Maurice behaves very un-cat like when he trades one of his lives for Dangerous Beans’s and both are returned to life.

We’ve never read Maurice so had no idea what to expect. We loved it, and now we need to read the book. It shows that you don’t have to have read anything by Pratchett to be able to enjoy the plays Monstrous Productions put on. The acting, sets and behind the scenes work cannot be faulted. It’s clear from the actors’ performances how much they love the plays. Monstrous Productions outdo themselves with each one, which isn’t an easy feat. We hope there will be many more plays and can’t wait for the next one.

Cast

Maurice – Matthew Hitchman

Keith – Ben Harder-Allen

Malicia – Becca Smithers

Darktan – Josh Stevenson-Hoar

Peaches – Sarah Roberts

Dangerous Beans – Josh Flynn

Sardines – Asher Townsend

Hamnpork – Harry Spencer

Ron – Tony Beard

Bill – Jamie Gibbs

Nourishing – Katya Moskvina

Mayor – Terrance Edwards

Delicious – Ellen Warren

Feedsfour – Loz Shanahan

Special Offer – Davina Darmanin

Bitesize – Sarah Burrow

Kidney – Jasmine Iskasson

InBrine – Isabelle Burman

Piper – Michael Dickinson-Smith

Agent – Gavin Rea-Davies

Sergeant – John Simpson

Gary – Paul Woolley

Nigel – John Dent

Death & mask maker – Matt Burnett

KeeKee – Nick Dunn

Going Postal

Going PostalGold suits, golems and undelivered mail. On Friday night we went to see Monstrous Productions‘ latest play, Going Postal.

We read the book once we found out this would be the next play performed by the Cardiff-based theatre group. We never miss a play and each time it gets bigger and better and we wonder how the hell they’ll pull the next one off, as they get more ambitious every time. But they always do, with a brilliant cast and crew and a minimal set that really works. The Gate arts centre is the perfect venue for it.

Going PostalDirected by Amy Davies and Edward Thomas, Going Postal tells the story of Moist Von Lipwig – con artist extraordinaire. He’s due to be hanged for his crimes but Lord Vetinari, played brilliantly by Michael Dickinson-Smith decides to hire him as the new Postmaster. Well he has two choices – be the new Postmaster or walk out the door and into a pit. He decides being the Postmaster is a better option.

Going Postal

Asher as Moist Von Lipwig

About five previous postmasters have all died. Health and safety just isn’t up to scratch. The problem is, the post hasn’t been delivered in fifty years and the letters aren’t happy about this. Then there’s the Grand Trunk and their clacks towers to contend with and they’re not exactly pleased about the post office opening back up and stealing their business. The hanging scene was one of our favourites in the book and it still made us laugh. The gallows humour is exactly our type of humour so we were pleased it was performed so well.

Going Postal

Michael as Vetinari

Asher Townsend, who plays Moist, was fantastic. He captured his cheeky character perfectly, even down to his smile, which often made the audience laugh. And his gold suit stole the show. The golems were a particular favourite of ours and their costumes were amazing. It’s not easy to bring a thousands’ year old pottery creature to life! Moist’s scenes with Adora Bell Dearheart were always entertaining. Ellen Warren, who played Miss Dearheart was perfect for the role. She was exactly how Miss Dearheart should be. Josh Flynn, who played pin-obsessive Stanley and Neil Chappell who played Reacher Gilt’s assistant Igor, got the most laughs. Josh’s hyperactive portrayal of Stanley was hilarious. Pete Belsen did a great job as Junior Postmaster Groat. We liked that the tradition of Nick (who played Reacher Gilt) dying in every role was continued. Even if it was off stage! As usual, he was brilliant and we loved his costume.

Going Postal

Nick as Reacher Gilt

Michael’s deadpan performance of Vetinari was spot-on. He had the dry sense of humour down perfectly. We’re always astounded by the quality of acting in these productions, as well as the costumes and set props. It’s clear how much fun everyone has doing this. Not only that, but the money raised goes to charity and so far, Monstrous Productions have raised over £20,000 for Alzheimer charities. If you’ve never seen one of these plays, please go to the next one. Even if you’ve never read Pratchett, you’ll love it.

Thanks to Amy and Craig for letting us use your photos in our blog.

We think Sir Terry Pratchett would be proud to see his work performed so brilliantly by true Pratchett fans.

The next play will be The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. We’re excited already!

Going Postal

Pete as Groat and Josh as Stanley

Cast

Moist Von Lipwig – Asher Townsend

Adora Bell Dearheart – Ellen Warren

Groat – Pete Belson

Stanley – Josh Flynn

Vetinari – Michael Dickinson-Smith

Mr Pump – Matthew Burnett

Reacher Gilt – Nick Dunn

Drumknott – Matthew Hitchman

Sacharissa – Sarah Roberts

Bill/Voice of the poet – Harry Spencer

Harry – Terrance Edwards

Mr Pony – Tony Beard

Stowley/Costume – Herm Holland

Mrs Greenyham/make-up – Zoe Azzopardi

Sane Al – Alex Butterworth

Mad Alex – Matt Edwards

Crispin/Ponder Stibbons – Loz Shanahan

Postman Aggy/Mr Slant – Scott Ericson

Trooper/Anghammarad – Edward Duke

Miss Maccalariat – Sarah Burrow

Mr Spools – Paul Woolley

Devious Collarbone/various – Sam Lewis

Mrs Parker/various – Davina Darmanin

Deaconess of Offler – Claire Taylor-Shepherd

Igor – Neil Chappell

Mr Wilkinson – Jamie Gibbs

Ridcully/various – Steve Durbin

Gryle – Jes Hynes

Nutmeg/various – Luke Belson

Big Dave/various – Katya Moskvina

Various – Howard Dickins

Pin customer/various – Richard McReynolds

Various – Jasmine Isaksson

Various – Isabelle Burman

Crew

Director/Producer – Amy Davies

Director – Edward Thomas

Stage Manager – Hannah Bennett

Technical Manager – David Rose

Costume Designer – Lizzie Mulhall

Graphic Design – Gemma Willians

Golem builder – Holly Raddy

Photography – Craig Harper

Sound – Joe Davey

Production Assistant – John B Dent

Eric

Last night was the closing night of Monstrous Productions’ Eric. We’ve gone to every play since Mort (still gutted we didn’t know about Monstrous Regiment and Carpe Juggulum before that) and we weren’t going to miss this one. We’ve never read Eric so had no idea what to expect. And we loved every single second of it. The moment Death appeared, we clapped with excitement. He had blue pinprick lights in his eyes! Exactly like in the book! Matthew Burnett, who played him, not only was fantastic in the role, but he made the mask, eye lights and hands himself. The play was hilarious. And just when thought it couldn’t get better…they made Luggage! We admit, we did squeal and clap like overexcited sea lions when Luggage trundled on stage. We may have even declared “Oh my god! Luggage!” and then Tweeted about it. Even better, Luggage chased people and ate them (complete with chomping sound effects), which was just perfect. Luggage was designed by Joe Davey and built by Tony Beard and Emma Paines. Tony also controlled it. As much as Luggage can be controlled.

Eric is about a 13 year-old-boy who tries to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by summoning a demon. Except he accidentally summons a wizard, Rincewind, who’s been trapped in the dungeon dimensions. He asks for three wishes: to be ruler of the world, to be immortal and have the most beautiful woman in the world fall in love with him. Unfortunately, Rincewind is the most incompetent wizard on Discworld. And he comes with a psychotic suitcase – Luggage. Luggage will fold your clothes if you throw them in. And eat anyone who threatens Rincewind. What more could you want from a travel accessory? (Providing it’s within airport length and weight allowances.)

Rincewind tries proving he’s not a demon by clicking his fingers. And transporting him, Eric and Eric’s parrot (brilliantly played by Zoe Azzopardi and made by Zoe and Ruby Azzopardi) to a jungle filled with a cannibalistic tribe. When we saw the parrot in the cast list, we wondered how this would be done but Zoe and the parrot were definite scene stealers!

As always, the cast and crew were amazing. So much goes into every play. The make-up was brilliant and we loved the giant book in the background, with scenes fabulously painted on the pages. Nick Dunn was fantastic as Rincewind. Rincewind isn’t usually popular among Pratchett fans but we’ve always loved him and Luggage. He was the first character we met when we started reading the Discworld novels. And it was strange to see a play where Nick didn’t die! (He is an expert at dying). Though he did go to Hell, so that counts. And Loz Shanahan was superb as Lavaeolus, who would prefer to build large wooden horses and find tunnels than kill someone in battle. Neil Chappell played a sulky thirteen year old boy very convincingly!

We particularly enjoyed the scenes set in Hell, which had lift music, voices over the tannoy system, and every torture was accompanied by a reading of health and safety regulations, complete with sub-clauses that ran into several volumes – that’s more terrifying than pitchforks and hellfire. Gone are the days where a man could just push a boulder up a hill as one of Hell’s tourist attractions. Edward Duke was excellent as Demon King Astfgl.

And even better – Monstrous Productions have now raised £18,000 for Alzheimer charities! So not only are the plays amazing, they’re for a good cause. If you haven’t seen any yet, please go. You will not regret it. You don’t even have to have read any Pratchett books to enjoy them. We can’t wait to see Going Postal in August.

Cast:

Rincewind – Nick Dunn

Eric- Neil Chappell

Astfgl – Edward Duke

Parrot – Zoe Azzopardi

Lavaeolus – Loz Shanahan

Da Quirm – Matthew Hitchman

Head Tezuman – Matthew Fisher

Death – Matthew Burnett

Azaremoth – Harry Spencer

Tsortean Captain – Terrance Edwards

Duke Vassenego – Jamie Gibbs

Urglefloggah – Ellen Warren

Drazometh – Pete Belson

Vizzimuth – Ben Wilson

The Creator – Katya Moskvina

Various – Howard Dickens

Archchancellor – Sam Steele

Quezovercoatl – John Dent

Bursar – Callum Robets

Various – John Simpson

Elenor – Sarrah Burrow

Ephebian – Matthew Thomas Edwards

Sissyfussy – Richard McReynolds

The Dean – Dan Collins

Tezuman – Luke Belson

Child – Lowri Belson

Private Archeios – Alastair Babington

Night Watch

Last night was the opening night of Monstrous Productions‘ Night Watch in The Gate Arts Centre. This was their biggest production to date and the first time they’ve attempted one with the Watch and Sam Vimes. Having read it a few months ago when we knew which play would be next, we thought “How the hell will they do this on stage?” But they did. And they did it brilliantly. Having been part of the cast for their last play, Witches Abroad (we played the creepy Snake Twins), we know just how much effort and hard work goes in to each of these productions.

Night Watch tells the story of Sam Vimes, Commander of the Night Watch. After grappling with murderer Carcer, both fall from the roof of the Unseen University and end up back in time. Except Sam becomes his old mentor, John Keel and ends up mentoring his younger self amidst rebellion, riots and Carcer becoming a police officer. The complicated time travel was helpfully explained by Lu-Tze, a history monk, played by Howard Dickens. Craig Harper was great as young Sam Vimes. He played Mort in, well, Mort, so it was good to see him back in a leading role. He did well to capture how young Sam is in the book – nervy, eager to impress and wanting to do the right thing. Jez Hynes was outstanding as older Sam Vimes/John Keel and the part where he recited his Night Watch contract, word perfect, with all the punctuation, got a well deserved applause. Tyron Sullivan was fantastic as the villainous Carcer. A lot of actors when playing villains, make them too hammy, but he successfully avoided that and made Carcer into the type of bad guy you want to hate, but can’t help liking, because he portrayed him so well. The way Heath Ledger was as the Joker. The scenes with Carcer and Vimes together were amazing. They were the perfect pairing. And full applause to their final fight scene. They completely threw themselves into it. We could easily believe it was actually Vimes and Carcer fighting in real life. It was thrilling, though we imagine Tyron must be a bit sore this morning!

All the fight scenes in the play were brilliantly choreographed and everybody involved in them, embraced them. You could hear the thuds to prove it. And once again, Monstrous Productions proved you don’t need a fancy set and hundreds of props to bring a production to life. It was great seeing some cast from Witches Abroad again and also new faces. In particular, Jamie Gibbs, from Geeks in Wales (he used to write the Mithril Wisdom blog), who played Ned Coates. Us and Jamie have been at all the plays, sometimes at the same time, and all reviewed them, but we’ve never met in person. After we got the part in Witches Abroad, we told him he had to audition for the next play. And he did. And he was awesome. So well done Jamie for going from reviewing the plays to acting in one.

We have to commend the cast’s singing too! We didn’t know they could sing! The song went from being a soldier’s slightly humorous song, to being haunting, to being touching, purely by the way they sang it.

The storyline didn’t allow for many female characters, but the few women who were in it were great. Zoe, Lowri, Isabelle and Katya returned from Witches Abroad to vastly different roles. Katya was especially impressive as Lady Roberta Meserole, capturing her elegant yet slightly sinister nature perfectly.

In keeping with Pratchett’s novels, the humour was brilliant too. Los Shanahan as Dr Lawn had some great, funny lines, and Matthew Hitchman as Fred Colon managed to make the audience laugh just by waving a flag. We laughed the whole time he had it.

If you’ve never seen one of their plays, go and see it. If you love Terry Pratchett, go and see it. If you’ve never heard of Terry Pratchett, go and see it. All proceeds go to Alzheimer’s Research and so far, they’ve raised over £12,000 from all their productions.

We’re already looking forwards to the next play in February (opening on our birthday) and Going Postal in August. We hope they will be able to perform every Discworld novel, but they’ll have to re-do Monstrous Regiment and Carpe Jugulum, because we missed those ones.

Cast

Sam Vimes/John Keel – Jez Hynes

Young Sam Vimes – Craig Harper

Carcer – Tyron Sullivan

Fred Colon – Matthew Hitchman

Nobby Nobbs – John Simpson

Snouty – Pete Belson

Lu-Tze – Howard Dickins

Ned Coates – Jamie Gibbs

Lady Roberta Meserole – Katya Moskvina

Havelock Vetinari – Harry Spencer

Dr Lawn – Loz Shanahan

Reg Shoe – Nick Dunn

Snapcase/Tilden – Stuart Moss

Dibler/Selachii – Matt Burnett

Lord Winder/various – Joshua Flynn

Captain Swing – Michael Dickinson

Mrs Rutherford/various – Sarah Pruett

Rust/Dr Follet – Terrance Edwards

Supple/Young Sybil – Sarah Burrow

Wiglet – John B. Dent

Captain Wrangle – Tony Beard

Sergeant Knock – Matthew Fisher

Major Mountjoy Standfast – Edward Duke

Slant/various – Ben Wilson

Sergeant Dickens – Matthew Edwards

Hepplewhite/various – Luke Belson

Dotsie/various – Zoe Azzopardi

Solider – Sam Steele

Sandra – Isabelle Burman

Leggie/Gabitass – Richard McReynolds

Various – Mikey Wickham

Rebel – Lowri Belson

Waddy – Dan Collins

 

 

 

 

Play Time

Witches Abroad, Monstrous ProductionsAs many of you know, we’ve been in a play – Terry Pratchett’s Witches Abroad by Monstrous Productions. This wasn’t stepping out of our comfort zone, this was being picked up by one one those grabbers in arcades and being dropped into someone’s else’s comfort zone. One, we’ve never acted in anything and two, we’re not great in large groups of people. In fact, it’s only in the last week that we’ve felt able to be more ourselves around people and actually talk to the rest of the cast.

Witches Abroad

The marvelous crew. Top – bottom: Craig, Sam, Hitch, Alex, Sarah-Jayne (makeup) Hannah, Callum & Ruby

And we’ve been there since November! Bit late we know. Since we stopped participating in the warm-up games, we felt more comfortable and more part of the group. It sounds a bit backwards, but watching rather than participating makes it easier for us to bond with people because we lose the self-consciousness that participation brings, so we can be more ourselves. Though this kinda sounds stalkerish. *Adopts creepy voices* “we like watching you.” We’re also better when we’re in smaller groups, or talking two-on-one.

Witches Abroad

Alex as Desiderata

Wednesday was opening night. Weirdly, we weren’t nervous until about 3 p.m. Then we had to do our breathing exercises until we reached The Gate. Once we were inside The Gate, we were ok. Especially when we went and sat on the stairs by ourselves 😀 We joked on Facebook that we were being our usual anti-social selves, but really we find noise overwhelming so sometimes find small dark, quiet places to retreat to, such as woods, stairwells, morgue fridges… Ruby, who plays the maid Sam, did a fantastic job of making us look scary and keeping us company throughout the play. We had to practise the bows and were given a 15 minute warning. As some people were still having their makeup done, we put our wigs on ourselves. We got lost in all that hair. It took us so long to fight our way free and force the wigs into some kind of submission, we were late to the bowing practice. Curse you, wigs!

Witches Abroad

Isabelle and Callum as Dismass and Gammer

Straight after the bows, was the group photo. We were already at the back of the stage when everyone assembled. It wasn’t a deliberate ploy to hide, but when everyone gathered, we could no longer be seen. Which was fine until Craig noticed he couldn’t see us. Goddamn it. Why do people always notice when we’ve gone missing? It seriously hampers our plans and mischief-making. Though we weren’t the only ones hiding, were we, Ellen? 😉

Witches Abroad

Director, Amy and assistant director, Ed

Craig tried to persuade us to go down the front. We don’t mind being lost in a crowd in group photos, but there’s no way in hell we will ever stand at the front. Yes we are two of the shortest cast members, but no. Richard (who played various roles) did threaten to throw us over the top, so Cat warned him that we do indeed, bite 😀 People who don’t know us very well, don’t realise how bloody stubborn we can be. We got our own way in the end, as is proved by the group shot at the bottom of this post.

Witches Abroad

Lowri and Ben as Magrat and Albert Hurker

As soon as it got to scene 18 and we were waiting in the wings, the nerves hit. Luckily, Caroline, who plays Lilith is in the scene with us and she’s a lot of fun, so she helped distract us, as did Craig, who was operating the curtain in the wing Cat was lurking in. Our hearts were pounding the minute we walked on stage. We were certain the audience would be able to see them trying to break through their bony cages. Fortunately, we didn’t trip and the scene went brilliantly. There was even a startled gasp as Caroline offered the mice to us.

Witches Abroad

Caroline and us as Lilith Weatherwax and the Snake Twins

Witches Abroad

Zoe and Tony as Nanny Ogg and Jason Ogg

Our next scene, scene 29, could have potentially gone wrong. When Granny Weatherwax (Ellen) throws a mouse behind a curtain, we chase it. In the tech rehearsals, we nearly collided with speakers that tried to deny us entry. Luckily we had enough space and even managed to find the mouse. Each night, the audience seemed to like us scampering after the mouse. For scene 36, we came through the door by the audience. As we were waiting with Richard, who plays a guard in this scene, a member of the audience came out.

Witches Abroad

Matthew, Katya and Luke

He looked a little startled to see three cast members lurking. As he trotted down the stairs, Cat called “surprise!” When he returned to the audience, we were loitering by the door on the inside, surprising him again. It’s fun to see how many of the audience notice us standing amongst them. The hardest part about scene 36 (the ball scene) is when Lilith clicks her fingers and we have to freeze. Our eyes burn and it’s extremely difficult not to blink. We failed miserably at this as our eyes were watering and burning throughout the entire scene. But we survived the opening night! Only 4 more runs to go…Witches Abroad

Here’s the review Wales Online wrote about opening night. And here is the one from Mithril Wisdom.

Night 2 started brilliantly – we took Cards Against Humanity backstage. We have the bigger, blacker box with every expansion, including the two new ones. What started out with four players, soon turned into 14. Unfortunately, we only had 20 minutes to play, but it was still fun.

Witches Abroad

Antonio and Isabelle as a guard and the princess

We managed to sneak a look at our headshots in the programme before they were whisked away to be sold. We’ve been dreading them, because we normally take hideous photos, but Craig’s worked a miracle and they are actually decent photos. It’s a good job we didn’t spend money on smiley face cover-up stickers. Plus putting stickers over our faces in every programme would’ve been very time-consuming. We may have to hire him for our author events and Calamityville shenanigans.

Witches Abroad

Pat as Mrs Pleasant

Witches Abroad

Tony and Katya as Jason and his wife

Night 2 went really well. We weren’t as nervous and our hearts didn’t pound when we were on stage, so we consider that a success. We also haven’t face planted yet, though there’s still time. Our former psychologist, Neil came to this performance, so after our character photos, we joined him in the bar. We haven’t seen him since he retired in July, so it was great to catch up.

Witches Abroad

Jacky and Ben as the Honorable Douglas Incessant and Lady Incessant

It was only a few years ago that Neil had to fight to get us to go into Starbucks, now because of him, we’re in a play. We don’t have many talents in life, but alongside getting lost, getting locked in places is one of them. We usually get locked in pubs, bars or even bowling alleys with our mate, Andrew, and we’ve been accidentally locked in Pembroke Castle. This time, us and Neil got locked in The Gate. We battled with the locks, rattling the door and flicking up locks on the other door, only for the barmaid to come and press a button beside the door. It immediately opened. It’s not the first time during this play that we’ve embarrassed ourselves with a door.

Witches Abroad

Lucy and Lowri as Ella and Magrat

Night 3 was a little different. Or rather, our makeup was a little different. Zoe painted our teeth to look like we had pointy teeth.

Witches Abroad

us and our creepy teeth

We loved them. They were suitably creepy. In the other performances, we didn’t open our mouths, which made little sense when one of Nanny Ogg’s lines is: “I’ve never seen teeth like those on anyone before.” Now we could grin menacingly. We made sure to warn Caroline before our scene with her, so we didn’t freak her out when she offered us the mice.

Witches Abroad

Fenn as the woodcutter

When word spread about our teeth, other members of the cast wanted to see them. They were impressed and creeped out. Strangely, we found ourselves smiling more at everyone when we knew they found our teeth frightening. Before the show started, we nipped out with Ruby to get food, forgetting we were in full snake makeup. Oddly, we got less weird looks than we do when we go out normally. This says a lot :/ We once again had to fight with our wigs – the fringes were so long that when we put the wigs on, we couldn’t see our faces in the mirror to adjust them. We looked like Cousin It after getting struck by lightning.

Witches Abroad

Meg and John as ball guests

Backstage, we were treated to a unique experience – watching Death (Alistair) twerking by his scythe in full costume. It’s not something you see every day and we’re glad we got to witness it. This time whilst we waited outside the theatre doors with Richard before the ball scene, instead of frightening audience members, the three of us practised our serial killer smiles. Despite our snake teeth, Richard won.

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Alistair as Death

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Meg as Red Riding Hood

After the play finished, we met up Neen, and her wife, Zoe in the bar. We overheard a guy saying something about the snake twins and how different they look in real life because they’re Goths. By this point, we were dressed in our usual clothes and had removed all the makeup. Except the teeth. We loved the teeth and refused to wash them off.

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Granny, Nanny and Luke as the wolf

He turned around and saw us sitting at the table behind him. So we flashed our pointy teeth at him. Rather than fleeing the bar in terror, he came over to speak to us. He said he really enjoyed our scenes and found it really creepy when Caroline pretends to feed us the mice. It seems everyone except us finds that scene unnerving. Maybe we’ve been snake owners for too long! He also enjoyed us scampering off after the mouse Ellen throws. He couldn’t believe how synchronised we were.

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Ellen, Lowri and Zoe as Granny Weatherwax, Magrat and Nanny Ogg

Day 4 was going to be a long day. There was a matinee performance for the first time, as well as an evening performance. Between performances, we made a mad dash to our favourite chip shop, Younger’s, which is in Birchgrove. Not exactly near The Gate. We didn’t bother taking off our snake makeup. At first, the boys in the chippie didn’t seem to notice, which left us wondering if we always look this weird. But then one of them asked what the occasion was. When we explained we were in a play and we were the creepy snake twins, his response was: “of course you are.”

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Caroline, Michael and Nick as Lilith, the Duc and Captain de Vere

We started the evening performance tweeting with a member of the audience, which was fun. Rules of Play were celebrating TableTop Day downstairs and it was really tempting to join them, as we were missing out on going to Counters, the board game event our friends run in Ponty. Unfortunately, the game event made things very difficult for us and Richard: when we were waiting to come on for the ball scene, we couldn’t hear a word that was said on stage. The three of us were pressed up against the door, desperately trying to listen for our cue to enter. Witches AbroadLuckily, Tony, who played Jason Ogg, was great at projecting. Usually we hear him clearly, but even he was almost impossible to hear. Thankfully, nobody left the theatre at that point, or they would’ve sent the three of us flying backwards down the stairs, with Richard’s spear tumbling after us and probably taking out someone’s eye. In the play, we can only be defeated by magic and being stamped on, but in real life, a door to the face would have done the trick. The matinee was filmed and will be posted on YouTube. We were nervous when we found out it was going to be filmed and were convinced that would be the moment we fall down the steps with our wigs skidding across the floor. Because this is what happens when we’re being filmed. In normal life, we never fall over, but as soon as the Calamityville Horror cameras start rolling, we turn in to trip hazards. Luckily we didn’t trip because we wouldn’t have been able to synchronise that.

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Dominique as Mrs Gogle, Harry as the Baron and Nanny

And no, we never did get the hang of those damn wigs.

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Ben, Richard and John threatening Granny with a terrible fate

Special thanks to Ruby, for not only persuading us to take part, but also for doing such a good job with our makeup and letting us know when our scenes were coming up. Thanks to Ruby, Zoe, Pat, Caroline and Craig for keeping us amused during rehearsals and throughout the shows. And thanks to Ellen for making us feel welcome and Nick for letting us keep the snakes 🙂 Thanks to Amy for wanting us in the play, Ed for making rehearsals fun, and Hannah for making sure we were ok. Also, big thanks to our mum, Lynette, sister, Sarah, our mates Neen, Zoe, Tom, Amy, Bryn and Jo, our former psychologist, Neil and our zumba instructor, Julia and her two sons who came to see us. We really appreciate the support. Show week has been our favourite week of all. We feel we got to know people a bit better, even if it was a little late.

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Fenn and John leading Terrence the toymaker to the dungeon

Over 700 tickets were sold for Witches Abroad, with the four nights selling out. £3,350 was raised for Alzheimer’s Research, which takes the total amount raised from all the plays to £11,000! Auditions for the next play, Night Watch will take place 11th-14th May (subject to change). Men especially are wanted! Email monstrousproductions2012@gmail.com for an audition pack.

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Witches Abroad

Meet the monsters

Photos by Craig Harper

Dressing Up

Witches Abroad, Monstrous ProductionsLast night we had our very first dress rehearsal for Monstrous Productions’ Witches Abroad in The Gate Arts Centre. We donned our costumes and had to remove our jewellery. We feel naked without our jewellery. Then we utterly failed to put our wigs on. We’ve had short hair since we were 8 and dealing with long wigs was a…challenge. We got completely tangled in them. And that was after we’d removed all our rings. So the make up lady, Sarah-Jayne had to help us. After Isabelle, who plays various roles, had problems too, we created a hashtag – #wigissues which we will no doubt be using a lot. With the long silver wigs and white mascara Ruby (who plays maid Sam and will be doing our make up) lent us, one thing was clear: we have very dark eyebrows. We look like bargain basement Daenerys Stormborns. Might need to use the white mascara on our eyebrows. That’s ok, right? We never wear mascara but we assume it will work on eyebrows.

We were barefoot as we’re meant to be silent. And it worked. We joined the rest of the cast on the stage floor then terrified Harry, who plays the Baron. He hadn’t heard us approach, turned around and there we were, in Snake Twin mode. He jumped 😀 Usually it’s only Caroline (Lillith) we get to frighten so it’s nice to spread the fear around 😀 We’ve bought croc effect nail paint from Barry M so our toe and fingernails will look like scales. We know we’ll be too far away for people to see them, but we’ll know about them.

There’s one problem with us being barefoot – we’re even shorter. In rehearsals when we wear our boots, we’re not a great deal shorter than Caroline. But now we’re barefoot and she’s in heels. We feel we lose part of our creepy factor when we look like Oompa-Loompas that have been denied the sun.

It’s brilliant seeing the play all performed in costume. It’s like we’re watching it for real. For our final scene, we appear through a different entrance, so during the interval, we decided to explore The Gate so we could find our way round from our usual stage entrance to our final one. You know how good we are at getting lost and we don’t want to be wandering the Gate on opening night trying to find the right door. Because you know that will happen. So we scampered off backstage. It’s so much easier to scamper when you’re barefoot. We found the stairs so followed them then found ourselves by the toilets, so thought we’d make use of them. You know what’s like, sometimes you need to go but just can’t be arsed to make the effort, but there they were.

Germophobes might want to skip this paragraph. We scurried in, only to suddenly remember we were still barefoot. In public toilets. Luckily, the floor was dry and clean, but by the time we realised, it was already too late. And there was no way we were heading back upstairs for our boots. All we can say is, thank god we weren’t using the men’s toilets for once! Those who know us well know we have a tendency to use the men’s toilets if the women’s are full or if we fail to find them. Our advice is: always make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear when using public toilets. At least we weren’t barefoot in the toilets at the Smiley Cafe on the weekend. Our skin would had to have been acid dipped.

Craig, who played Mort, was taking photos of everyone, but fortunately, he didn’t get a decent one of us. That’s because 99% of the time, we take terrible photos. We’ve also managed to escape being in the other rehearsal ones 😀 Either that, or Craig’s realised that we take awful photos and has very kindly spared us by not posting them. Thanks Craig, we appreciate it 🙂 We dread to think what our programme photos look like. Perhaps we should borrow the programmes and slap stickers over our pictures. Or better yet, cover them with photos of our snake, Charlie.

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Charlie, ready for his close-up

The show runs Wednesday April 8th – Saturday April 11th with a matinee performance on the Saturday as well as the evening show. So please please please come. Even if it’s just to laugh at us looking like ageing drag queens. It’s a fantastic play and we’re not just saying that because we’re in it. We’ve seen it so many times now and we never get bored of it. Tickets are £8 available here or you can buy paper tickets from us.

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Warlock says “come and see Witches Abroad.”