Photos Reviews

Wyrd Sisters

May 1999

by Terry Pratchett / Stephen Briggs, directed by Mary Jones


Granny Weatherwax - Maggie Butt

Nanny Ogg - Clare Girvan

Magrat Garlick - Cecilia Gill

Verence, late King of Lancre - Peter King

Leonal Felmet, Duke of Lancre - John Palmer

Lady Felmet - Louise Morin

Vitoller - Tim Burgess

Mrs Vitoller - Isla Morgan

Fool - Greg Pascoe

Tomjon - Colin Pascoe

Hwel, the playwright - Philip Jones

Sergeant - Brian Bowker

Demon, Chamberlain - David Batty

Robbers, Players, Guards, Peasants - Brian Bowker, Cass Thorne, Harold Revill, Rose Gander, Isla Morgan, Graham Ward

Production Team:

Director - Mary Jones

Staging - Brian Bowker, Keith Palmer

Lighting - Aleksis Gailans

Effects - Peter Tapp

Sound - Ron Murray

Costumes - Isla Morgan

Props - Rose Gander, Isla Morgan

Front of House - Maggie Butt

Publicity - Maureen Whitt

Prompt - Sheila Wall

Posters - Philip Jones

Photography - Karen Voysey


From Estuary News:

...David Batty was .. deliciously demonic...

Wyrd Play - Bewitching Cast

This was a theatrical 'first' for me. When I attended the final performance of Wyrd Sisters by Estuary Players on Saturday night, I make a clean confession here and now that I have never read a Terry Pratchett book and this was my first venture into his distinctive Discworld. During the previous week I was tempted by the generous display of Pratchett books in Joel's Bookshop window, but felt that any last-minute cramming on my part would be breaking faith with Stephen Briggs' adaptation of this popular author's work - especially since I knew that I would be a poor judge of whether it was a good adaptation or not.

As far as this production is concerned, I have had to rely entirely on what I saw on stage, rather than what I knew of the work or author in advance. On consideration, that background ignorance on my part may not be such a bad thing. I bring no baggage or preconception to this review and it might well be fresher and fairer for that fact.

What did I like about the production? The acting, certainly! The characters were colourful, clearly-drawn with the over-definition that one expects of a fairy-tale world - an intricately constructed world in this case, with very strong Shakespearean over / undertones, involving as it does witches, demons, guilty queens, court jesters and lost princes, all intermingling with familiar plots and portraits from Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear in a bubbling broth worthy of the witches cauldron.

The witches themselves were great fun and key characters in their own right - homespun, humorous philosophers with a down to earth wisdom that only years of seasoned spell-casting could achieve, Maggie Butt, Clare Girvan, and their young apprentice Cecilia Gill were exceptionally well cast.

John Palmer was disturbingly villainous as Duke Felmet, both his assumed voice and body-language a delight to witness - particularly during those upsetting filing and sandpapering sessions on those blood-strewn hands of his. A difficult act to partner, but Louise Moring matched him strength for strength as a suitably repellent Lady Felmet.

David Batty was as deliciously demonic and Peter King as ghastly as their respective roles demanded: Greg Pascoe jingled his way through his personable part and obviously enjoyed it. The remaining members of the large cast of nineteen were very well selected and added colour and character to the roles they adopted.

The costumes were particularly pleasing, lighting and staging effective and the dramatic effects (even without the second unexpected 'BANG' on Saturday night!) were sufficiently theatrical to add a zing to the evening's entertainment. Mary Jones, the main supporting pillar of Estuary Players, directed with the now-expected intelligent flair and dedication. As I have commented in an earlier review, Mary's productions invariably have little hidden messages and subtleties that one feels obliged to point out along the way. I had no-one sitting next to me on this occasion and felt rather frustrated in this respect - one loves to show off when one recognises a clever touch in the play's dialogue or in the direction.

All these factors I will remember with pleasure. What didn't I like? Unfortunately, the play itself. For all its clever plotting and patches (I particularly loved the concentration of all one's favourite fairytale witches from childhood into 'Black Alice' - one Supreme Supernatural Being - during one of the gossipy exchanges amongst the Three Sisters) I found the machinations of plot and characters (who was dead, who wasn't?) far too confusing for easy comprehension, particularly so in the second half of the play. This was a fault of the writing, I must say, rather than any relaxation on the part of the excellent cast. I personally found the dénouement rather messy; not at all the clear-cut explanation that I felt we, as an audience, deserved, having worked our way through the complications of the plot in such a devoted manner. The final identification of the Jester King I found unconvincing - a plotline that would have benefited from extra clarification at the end.

These are personal quibbles however. Once again Estuary Players can be proud of another noble achievement in their theatrical record. It was a clever publicity ploy on their part to offer a £1 discount at Dillon's Bookshop, Exeter, on any Pratchett book on production of a theatre programme - the Players themselves need no such enticement; their continued high standard of attainment is recommendation enough to ensure enthusiastic audiences for each new production in turn.

- Reviewed by: Gryff


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