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WOSSNAME -- February 2010 -- Part 4 of 5

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  • granny_tude
    WOSSNAME -- FEBRUARY 2010 -- PART 4 OF 5 (continued) ... oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ====Part 4 -- MORE REVIEWS, AND HOROSCOPE 19)
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 25, 2010
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      WOSSNAME -- FEBRUARY 2010 -- PART 4 OF 5 (continued)





      I was a bit dubious about the use of puppetry, but in the end most
      of that was also excellent. I thought the puppet pig and baby
      Twinkle were fabulous, and while I didn't like the design of the
      grandfather birds, which looked and behaved like skeletal vultures
      rather than as they were described in the book, the puppetry was
      still good, with the remarkable effect of being able to disguise
      quite well the fact that the bird puppets required two people to
      control them.

      Some of the characters were combined or altered to make the story
      more suitable for the stage format, and in general this worked very
      well. Giving Cox a reason for becoming what he did, leaving out
      Cahle's mental disturbance, and making Mrs. Gurgle (renamed
      Marisgala) into a kind of wise woman made for more coherence in the
      limited time, and making Ataba the priest a somewhat less stubbornly
      reactionary character also made sense given the downplaying of the
      anti-tradition/religion theme. The cast was very strong, without any
      notable let-downs (but see below), but Mau and Daphne were
      outstanding. The music and singing fitted in seamlessly, and gave
      the impression of being the natural expression of the people at
      times of celebration, not as implausible intrusions in the story.

      My biggest complaint was, in fact, one of the things that other
      reports have generally praised most about Nation. That was Milton
      the parrot. As far as I know, everyone in the group found Milton not
      as good as reported. For me, I think the main problem was his
      costume. I found that because he looked like a man wearing a South
      Pacific bustle rather than something that was at least vaguely bird-
      like, I had to keep reminding myself that he was a parrot in order
      to not be taken aback by his character. His lines were perfectly
      fine as interruptions from a clever parrot, but not from a person,
      and his demeanour wasn't sufficiently bird-like to consistently
      maintain the right impression in my mind given the lack in
      costuming. That's not to say that he didn't have some great moments,
      but personally my Suspenders of Disbelief(TM) were strained by
      having to do a lot of work which could have been easily avoided.
      Even something in the costume to suggest wings would have helped a
      lot. Also, Jason Thorpe, the actor who played Milton, looked like a
      friend of mine who actually does have a red mohawk that looks more
      parrot-like that Jason Thorpe managed to, and that was a tiny bit

      Now to the ideas in the story. I don't think a stage production
      could ever take in the full scope of the story of Nation,
      particularly the theme of questioning tradition and religion that is
      so strong in the book and was really only lightly touched on in the
      play. Some might argue that the discussion of religion or the losing
      of religion is one of the main themes of Nation the book, and
      downplaying it was disappointing. I personally really can't see how
      anyone could have produced an engaging, coherent story in the form
      of a play which included that as a major theme while also including
      the supernatural elements of the scenes with Locaha. There just
      isn't enough time to cram that much information into the format, and
      as the Locaha scenes carry Mau's story on and are more suited to
      portraying in a visually engaging way, it's much easier to retain
      them. You might be able to include more with a film version as there
      is less restriction, but not in a play -- there's just too much
      complicated information there. In the book, there can be a balance
      of the ambiguity of Mau rejecting the gods whilst still having
      experiences that feel "spiritual", but a book has the advantage of
      being able to discuss concepts and let the reader draw the pictures
      with their mind. A play must show and tell in a limited time and
      with limited resources, in a way that must be visually engaging -- a
      method which is a much less efficient way of portraying large and
      complicated ideas.

      Overall, I really enjoyed the play. I laughed, I cried, I was
      (mostly) fully swept into the story. Staging Nation was a pretty big
      task, and I think the National Theatre have done very close to as
      good a job as is possible. But though I can't say for sure due to my
      own familiarity with the book, I think it possible that there is
      still so much information in the current version of Nation the Play
      that people unfamiliar with the story may find it a little bit hard
      to follow. Oh yes, and I think the camera work was very good, and
      probably made things better than being in the actual theatre in some
      ways. Just imagine how much harder it would have been to understand
      Milton was a bird if you were at the back of the theatre trying to
      see what was going on!

      The production included an interval, which was rather nice. It meant
      I got to have my (very overpriced) water, and there was some
      interesting additional material like the winning entries in a
      competition for school-age children to create film productions of
      the tea-party scene from the book of Nation, and Gary Carr (Mau) and
      Emily Taaffe (Daphne) visiting the Museum and seeing items such as a
      scale model of Darwin's Beagle and the earliest known dictionary and
      translation of a South Pacific language. It turns out that "Mau"
      means "shark", which is rather satisfying -- another little example
      of Pterry Knowing Lots of Stuff, or at least making good use of good

      After Nation finished, we adjourned to Brown's for cake and coffee,
      but didn't get to spend a lot of time due to one person having to
      leave to catch a train, one person having to go to a party, and one
      person needing a lift to the nearest emergency department after
      deciding that the hand that they had slammed into a doorknob before
      the movie really needed to be x-rayed, what with the swelling and
      all. We therefore went our separate ways, in my case highly
      satisfied with the play. I'm pleased to report that the injured
      hand proved to have a ligament strain but no broken bones, but we
      didn't find that out until some seven hours later. All in all, a
      very good day out.

      -- Mogg

      Also, some additional thoughts from attendee Sacharissa:

      Having re-read the book since, I think that the adaptation of Cox
      potentially weakened one of Sir Pterry's major themes in Nation-the-
      novel. Namely, that people who turn their backs on (the) God(s) are
      not inherently evil, and that people who are atheists can be Good
      People, and that people who worship deities can in fact sometimes be
      horrifically evil, but can also be Good People, and that -- on the
      whole -- people are just people, but sometimes they enjoy hurting
      everyone else.

      By making Cox someone who had turned his back on God and become
      nihilistic, that really undid a lot of the strength conveyed by
      Mau's angry repudiation of the Pelagic gods.

      That being said, I do like that Daphne's trial was left unresolved
      in the play -- I like that the adapters left it up to the audience
      to decide whether Daphne's actions were Right, Wrong, or Wrong-But-
      Justified (personally, I think the last). And I liked the merging of
      Cahle with Unknown/Papervine Woman, although it did basically mean
      that Papervine Woman's role (unable to feed baby) was completely
      subsumed by Cahle and her baby.



      In the Winston-Salem Journal, a review of Nation by Steve

      "There are heroes, villains, mutineers, cannibal head hunters, a
      rescue mission, lost civilizations and god anchors, all of which
      require poor Mau to actually think for himself, a process he finds
      as uncomfortable as the rest of us do... Pratchett's genius -- and I
      think him the equal of Twain -- is to walk the razor's edge between
      plausible fantasy and irrational reality, indicating amusing points
      of interest, unusual spectacles, sprightly follies and noble
      edifices along the way. His characters, even the bit players, have
      length, breadth, thickness and duration, as well as quaint
      vocabularies and obscure motivations of their very own..."




      Unlike some critics, Ty Burr of The Boston Globe (USA) was
      unequivocally delighted by the NT's cinecast of Nation:

      "In a word: Tremendous. Based on a Terry Pratchett novel about a
      British girl and a South Seas Islander boy marooned on an island and
      slowly building a new civilization, it has been adapted by Mark
      Ravenhill and directed by Melly Still with a subtle but epic
      intelligence that allows Pratchett's plea for enlightened
      rationalism to shine through. The production uses elements of
      choreography, puppetry, and masque but well within the context of
      the tale... The performances help "Nation'' forge a genuine
      emotional connection with the audience, even one sitting 3,325 miles




      "Kobo has launched its cloud-based e-book service in the UK allowing
      anywhere access to recent bestsellers and free classics. The
      service, which was previously restricted to the US, is now open for
      business in the UK... Because the service is cloud based, you can
      shuttle between devices and carry on reading where you finished last
      time as the software keeps your books in sync across multiple
      platforms. Books come in either PDF or ePub formats and are priced
      at up to 31 per cent off of the RRP according to Kobo. There seem to
      be some pricing inconsistencies, however. Terry Pratchett's latest
      Unseen Academicals is given a list price of £22.31. Kobo is
      flogging it for £8.99 which it says is 60 per cent off of the list
      price. But Amazon lists the hardback version of the book at £18.99
      and sells it for £9.49..."




      by Fernando Magnifico

      Hallo and buongiorno my magnificent friends! The Lady Asterisk is
      not available, for she has come down with weasels, but do not be
      concerned, for Fernando shall be your astrologer today!

      My friends, unlike some astrologers who only ever tell you the good
      news, Fernando does not compromise and will always be completely
      honest with you, even when it means telling you the messages which
      are perhaps not so much to your liking. And so it is with this
      month, for Fernando has consulted the stars to report what food you
      are most alike.

      Fernando knows that his readers are the cream of the cream, or as
      the Quirmians say for some reason, the creme de la creme, who will
      have no problem with facing their own weaknesses, unlike those who
      read the *other* astrologers, who say only the things which flatter
      the reader. This is necessary, for Fernando knows that all foods are
      good in their own way, even the Ankh-Morpork sausage-inna-bun, but
      they all have the weaknesses as well as the strengths. Just as you
      would not put the wow-wow sauce on fresh strawberries, or serve
      pickled cabbage with pasta (unless you are from BhangBhangDuc), so
      all signs have their good and bad combinations. And just as it is so
      for the food, the goodness and badness of the combination is
      according to taste, so do not worry my friends, what the stars say
      here is not so much the rule as just a guideline. If wow-wow sauce
      on the strawberries works for you, who is Fernando to say that you
      shouldn't do it?

      Ciao bella!


      The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

      According to the stars, who know these things (you can trust
      Fernando on this), the fruit that Hoggers are most alike is the
      Wahoonie: big, spiky, tasting of earwax and sometimes smelling
      faintly of Foul Ole Ron. But the wahoonie is also prized by the
      connoisseurs (excuse Fernando's Quirmian) of fine, exotic, or merely
      expensive foods. Like the Hogger, you will never forget your first
      Wahoonie, not even with therapy. It is the difficult fruit, and the
      Adamant Hedgehog is a difficult sign, but those who can handle it
      will win the admiration and wonder of their friends. Hoggers, you
      are best suited in small quantities, and you are best suited for


      The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr - 21 May

      My friends, the stars say that Sandies are like garlic, the queen of
      vegetables! Fernando, like all Brindisians, was weaned from his
      sainted mamma's milk onto the garlic. (That is to say, Fernando was
      weaned onto the garlic, like all Brindisians, and not that all
      Brindisians were weaned off Fernando's sainted mamma. Morporkian is
      the molto difficile language sometimes!) It was a terrible shock for
      Fernando to come to Ankh-Morpork where garlic is used to frighten
      the vampires and not for the cooking. My friends, when making sauce
      for the pasta, you must listen to Fernando's Aunt Maria who says
      that the right amount of garlic for any dish is always "more".
      Garlic is like the queens: strong, rich, and you always know when
      they are in the room. Garlic is good for the muscles, the liver, the
      heart, the man bits and the lady bits, and it cures what ails you.
      Like garlic, the Sandies sometimes have trouble making friends, and
      you are best suited for Staffies and Andies.


      End of Part 4 -- continued on Part 5 of 5.
      If you did not get all parts, write: interact@...
      Copyright (c) 2010 by Klatchian Foreign Legion
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