Reviewed by Dave Smith
Unseen Theatre Company has taken on quite a challenge with Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters at The Bakehouse Theatre, and to a large degree the company is up to that challenge.
They use the Bakehouse’s sparse black space, supplemented with simple and effective carry-on furniture and props, to take the audience through the action. Pratchett’s basic story is of a corrupt usurper to the throne and the eventual re-discovery of the rightful, if unwilling, heir. The plot is guided by three comic take-offs of Macbeth’s witches, Granny Weatherwax (Pamela Munt), Nanny Ogg (Therese Hornby) and Magrat Garlick (Lucy Haas-Hennessy).
It’s difficult to pin down the style of this adaptation. At times it’s a satirical look at Shakespeare – the witches, a play-within-a-play ‘to catch the conscience of the king’, allusions to Lady Macbeth, and so on. But it’s also a pantomime, a fairy tale and a mock epic – with episodes of slapstick. The end comes very abruptly, with much of the unfinished action related to us by the witches. All that results in a certain uneven quality.
The witches serve their dramatic functions well and have pleasingly differentiated characters. James Loader as Duke Leonal Felmet and Samm Blackmore as his Duchess are generally scheming and evil enough, Paul Messenger does well as the ghost of King Verence, Hugh O’Connor has a strong presence and precise comic timing as Death, while Leighton James is a credibly naïve and idealistic Tomjon.
Marlon Dance-Hooi as The Fool provides the outstanding sustained performance of the play. He moves with a jester’s agility, has striking facial expression, and creates just the right tone and pace, along with a sensitive understanding of his character’s purpose.
Director Pamela Munt did a pretty solid job with this production. The cast maintained the required pace and evoked genuine laughter from the audience.