WOSSNAME -- DECEMBER 2003 -- PART 2 OF 3 (continued)
LETTERS FROM OUR READERS
5) CASTING THE DISCWORLD
To the Editor:
Sybil should be played by Lynn Redgrave.I imagine Vimes to
be broader than Viggo. Russell Crowe perhaps?
The Duwamish river does resemble the Ankh from time to time.
-- Fred from Seattle
6) GUARDS! GUARDS!
To the Editor:
I, too, went and saw the Sydney production of Guards! Guards!, on the
Saturday night (I later learnt they added a matinee that afternoon due to
the high demand). For experimental purposes, I also took with me a companion
whose experience of Discworld is limited to half of Soul Music.
A quick warning: This review may contain some spoilers to the novel, so if
you're one of the very few who haven't read it then I'd suggest putting this
aside for a while and taking some time to have a look.
I had some high expectations for this production, which is possibly where I
was let down. It really was a good show, it just wasn't quite what I'd hoped
for, and that's not really being fair on Thee More Pork Players, given that
this is their first show and they make no pretensions of being the Bell
The stand-out performers were Steve Bilkey as Vimes, Miles Thomas as The
Librarian, and Jeff Forrest as CMOT Dibbler. Vimes had just the right amount
of swagger (alcoholic when drunk, confident when not), and really carried
the story, while the other two only had secondary roles, but played them so
smoothly one almost felt they were channelling the characters directly.
As far as humour was concerned, there was plenty to laugh about. And quite a
bit to laugh at. Unfortunately, IMTAO there were a few too many moments
played for quick laughs, including some which were apparently so funny that
even the actors couldn't help laughing. Bilkey was quite good at controlling
his mirth, but Giles Hardie as the Grand Supreme Master was doing everything
he could not to burst out in laughter, quite a problem since he was supposed
to be growling at the incompetent Brethren and telling the audience his
Hardie also played the role of Sybil Ramkin, a good casting call in light of
the fact that the only female in the cast was playing Nobby, but not so good
because it turned all of the scenes between Vimes and Sybil into something
reminiscent of a Carry On film. I was hoping for at least a hint of genuine
romance, but it was more cheap laughs all the way through. i was a bit more
forgiving with the scene in which the Supreme Grand Master ran out past the
audience, and less than a minute later Lady Ramkin appeared on stage, and
felt that was worthy of the applause he was given, but was disappointed
again with the "Sir! Are you wearing lipstick?" line to which Lupine Wonse
replied in Ramkin voice.
OK, so I lied. There was one other excellent performance, or possibly even
performances - Erroll. Erroll was played by an adorable hand puppet that
looked like he was straight out of the Pratchett Portfolio, and was operated
by whoever was holding him (and, in the case of the final "fight" scene,
there was also one that was suspended on a wire, but I'm not sure whether
there were two puppets or not. Erroll had a personality all his own, which
shone through whether he was being fussed over by Lady Ramkin, or stroked or
used as a weapon by Vimes - in fact, when Vimes aimed Erroll at the
intruders to the Ramkin manor, even though you could see his arm stuck up
the rear end of a dragon, it looked like something out of a movie but with a
dragon in place of a gun.
Now, onto some of the things that didn't sit so right with me. First was
Kat'rina Bartlett, as Brother Dunnikin and Corporal Nobbs, possibly among
others. She had a great semi-Cockney accent, which was unfortunately backed
up by a slightly whiny voice and very little resemblance to the real
Corporal Nobbs. At the very least they could have made her look a little
more grubby and bumpy-looking on her face.
There was just a tad too much exposition, mostly by Vimes, which got on my
nerves a little and could probably have been justified if he actually pulled
out the notebook that is mentioned several times in the novel. Also, despite
the program crediting Stephen Briggs with the adaptation, they seemed to be
stretching his "scene changes longer than 10 seconds will lose the audience"
to its absolute limit, and the Footnote character which I believe was in his
version did not appear, and instead important background information (and in
one case, information which the characters then repeated almost verbatim)
was supplied by a "voice of God" system where the lights dimmed, characters
froze, and said voice (who was also the voice of the dragon) would ramble on
for a bit.
Since the dragon couldn't very well appear on stage, they used some very
good tricks to create the impression of it. Red and yellow lighting, as well
as two jets of smoke when it was on the throne, created a very impressive
effect. Unfortunately, the sound they used for its appearance (which was
probably a piece of leather rubbed against something) sounded to me like a
legion of troops marching in step, which confused me at first and irritated
Matt Gaskin (who with a name like that should have been one of the Brethren)
played Vetinari, and was quite good as the manipulative leader dressed in
black who was apparently in charge of it all. Except (and once again this is
probably more due to my expectations of Vetinari rather than a failing on
Gaskin's part), he seemed maybe a little too evil, a little too camp, and
not quite as sexy as my impression (ok, not quite sexy, but with that kind
of mysterious aura that is at least attractive).
Pascal Rüeger, as Carrot, was passable, and certainly had most of the
required attributes - tall, kind of dopey look, orange hair, innocent
expression. In fact, he was very good and I can't think why I didn't like
his performance except for another "but that's not how I think of him"
feeling. His expositions, in the form of recorded tracks played as he read
over the letters he wrote home, worked very well to recap various points in
the story, provide some good laughs, and move other parts of the plot along.
I suppose this review is more filled with things I didn't like about the
play than things I did, but actually overall it was a very enjoyable
experience, and I certainly look forward to future productions. Even though
it wasn't quite what I was hoping, they did a good job of, as they put it,
paying homage to PTerry in the form of a retelling, and the companion I took
along had a wonderful time, and in fact probably enjoyed the play even more
than I did (helped by having no preconceptions).
Best of luck to Thee More Pork Players in future endeavours, and may their
next Pratchett play be even better than this one.
To the Editor:
Conman, I have to know...did they do the full 'million to one
chance' bit? I saw Guards! Guards! a couple of years back and was
dissapointed that they missed that bit out.
I remember that Vetinari was played just as I expected him to be,
and the actor looked just how I expected V to look.
We had the special effects for the dragon too, but at one point...I
believe it was just before the interval we did get a huge dragon's
foot on the stage.
Yep! I'm still around,
PKO and Vampire
Founder of BURA
7) NIGHT WATCH -- VIMES COMES OF AGE
To the Editor:
Funny. Irreverent. Historical hysterical.
None of this adequately describes Terry's Night Watch.
The reader is treated to a view of Sam Vimes that goes
beyond anything Terry has attempted with his main
characters - further than Granny Weatherwax and her
sister, further than Angua and her brother, even further
than Nobby and his, well . . . is there anything related
to Nobby? I mean, really?
Vimes the present and Vimes the past. Lessons to be
learned from the master, lessons to be learned by the
student. Lessons to be learned by the master from the student.
(And yes, Nobby had a father -- this we are sure of now --
in prison during that era. Thank goodness we don't have to
meet him! Can you imagine? Things that make you go
Les Miserables meets Time Cop. From the barricade to the
paradoxical changes in history that somehow resolve themselves,
from the sentimentality of the flowers (especially when worn by
the Patrician) to the graveside vigil by Reg (well, not graveside
exactly), the reader is shown how a small patch of time can
have so many meanings, so many life altering experiences in it ...
but we move too quickly and pay too little attention.
I (sadly) finished the book. (Actually, I hate to start his books
because I know they have to end. Maybe we can have
Leonard of Quirm look into a solution to this.) I found myself
reminiscing, thinking back to times when I should have done
something, could have done something (or, more importantly,
shouldn't have done something) - and have discovered that
now is the time to look at what I should be doing, what I could
be doing (and especially, what I shouldn't be doing).
I thank Terry for his books, his humor and poignancy. I especially
applaud Night Watch but with both hands clapping. As much as I
have enjoyed his books, and I have liked most of them, loved the
rest - this one, Night Watch, is the most profound and will, probably,
remain my favorite.
-- Abbot Christopher
Currently on my 4th reincarnation (Wannabikit!)
8) BOOK REVIEW
REVIEW: CORALINE by Neil Gaiman
New York, 2002, 163 pp. 5-5/8x8-3/8 inches
Price: $15.99 ($11.19 via Amazon) hardcover
Price: $5.99 paperback
Price: GBP 9.99 (7.99 via Amazon) hardcover
Price: GBP 5.99 (4.79 via Amazon) paperback
This book will send a shiver down your spine, out
through your shoes, and into a taxi to the airport.
It has the delicate horror of the finest fairy tales,
and it is a masterpiece. And you will never think
about buttons in quite the same way again.
Reviewer: Terry Pratchett
Comments: I just got this book for Christmas and it
is a gem. Another reviewer was Dianne Wynne Jones,
who said: "It is the most splendidly original, weird,
and frightening book I have read..."
It's as much for adults as it is for children, maybe more
-- Joe Schaumburger
If you did not get all 3 parts, write: jschaum111@...
End of Part 2, says my computer -- continued on Part 3 of 3
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