Reviewed by Dave Smith
Pamela Munt’s world premiere adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Reaper Man took the opening night audience along the strange path of examining the personality and motives of Death.
Death himself, solidly played by Hugh O’Connor, is forced to reside among the living where he assumes the character of Bill Door and wields his scythe as a farmhand to Miss Flitworth played by Pam Munt. On the way he encounters many other characters and events which shape his attitudes and fate. While the original plot is unlikely, it raises certain worthy questions about humanity, the after-life and the very being of Death itself – all in pretty good humour. Its complexity and array of strange characters while quite familiar to Pratchett devotees, are not easily accessible to the uninitiated.
In this production much of the humour was preserved, particularly the frequent puns, but the narrative lost its focus at times. The transitions between scenes, – and there were some major leaps – were occasionally awkward and noisy. They affected the fluency, although were usually well covered by the sincerity and stage presence of Samm Blackmore as Footnote. Her narration linked some otherwise fragmented elements.
As the central character, Death, O’Connor was consistent, convincing and often funny. Leighton James was satisfying as Windle Poons, Michael Coumi showed versatility in his numerous roles, and Michelle Whichello provided a nice vignette as Mrs Cake.
The set, enclosed in the customary Bakehouse black walls, was simple and functional, combining each scene’s basic furniture with appropriate upstage projections. The costumes were effective, and those wearing masks did well to preserve movement and character while remaining commendably clear and audible.