Witches and kings at weird night out

From Shakespeare to Back to the Future - Thalian Theatre’s show has it all

From Shakespeare to Back to the Future - Thalian Theatre’s show has it all

First published in What's On Basildon Recorder: Photograph of the Author by

IF you want searing insights into the human condition, go to Shakespeare, but for sheer rollicking entertainment value on an epic scale, choose Terry Pratchett.

Thalian Theatre Group has done the latter with its staging of the novel, Wyrd Sisters, from Pratchett’s Discworld series.

Actually, you get Shakespeare thrown in as well, since the fantasy is one long comic reworking of the Bard’s heavier tragedies, starting with Macbeth and ranging through Hamlet, King Lear, Richard III and Romeo and Juliet. There are also some sly references to everything from Tolkien to Back to the Future.

You emerge a touch zonked from the Mirren Studio, at the Towngate Theatre, thanks to the sheer hyperactive drive of the storyline.

For the price of a ticket you get meddling witches, a murdered king, his whinging ghost, a lost baby, a fifteen-year-long smoochy kiss, work-to-rule muggers, and a bunch of travelling players, who don’t travel.

And that’s just scene one.

A 20-strong cast rattles through the sprawling material and the host of comic parts with zest and some memorable characterisations. The only weakness lies, not with the cast, but in Stephen Briggs’ adaptation of the book which has a tendency to bog down in static conversation pieces.

Some trimming of the text would speed up the pace.

But this is still a colourful and entertaining night out, with Thalian in strong form, not just onstage, but also backstage in areas such as costume and pyrotechnics.

Stand-out performances in-clude Penny Betteridge as the thinking woman’s witch, Granny Weatherwax, Ian Stewart as the Fool and Tom King, no relation, as the usurping king.

Now that really is wyrd.

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