Terry Pratchett's Eric

The best thing about Terry Pratchett’s work was his ability in world creation. Throughout the Discworld novels, Pratchett carved out a little piece of reality so well-crafted that it was easy to believe it was real - and this is happily present in Duck in a Hat Theatre’s production of Terry Pratchett's Eric. They capture the humorously prosaic, magical world of Pratchett with gusto, and take the audience far beyond the bounds of the small theatre in which it was performed.

If the Grim Reaper has comedic pacing like his counterpart in Eric, we’ll all be shuffling off the mortal coil with a grin.

What struck me most about this show was the inventiveness and sheer quality of their set and costumes. Their ‘maximalist’ approach pays off in spades, from the horns on bureaucratic demons to the gigantic backdrop which looked like something directly out of a Disney credits-roll. My favourite, however, was the remote-controlled luggage, which zipped about the stage like an excited, loudly-whirring dog.

It was clear even from the back that this was a show both the cast and crew were having a blast with. There were some notably strong performances, with Hywel Thomas presenting my favourite presentation of Lord Vasenego to date, and Nick Jennings fitting perfectly into the role of a cowardly yet oddly endearing Rincewind. But I think the best part of the show was their portrayal of Death, both from a technical perspective (with his spectral blue eyes), and an acting perspective: if the Grim Reaper has comedic pacing like his counterpart in Eric, we’ll all be shuffling off the mortal coil with a grin.

It’s a shame, though, that things can’t all be rosy. There were dips in the show’s energy, brought on by the oddly static physicality or non-committal line delivery of some cast members in certain roles, especially when it required unusual voice work. It sometimes felt as though strength was being sacrificed for sound. It’s a shame, because moments like those deeply undermined the sense of completeness and magic that the rest of the show works so hard at building. It’s a small complaint, but one which resonates hard.

Despite that, the team of Eric should be extremely proud. To undertake the task of bringing Pratchett’s work to the stage is extremely ambitious, and they’ve done right by the late great man.

Reviews by J W Close

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Performances

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The Blurb

All amateur demonologist Eric wants is the usual three wishes: to live forever, to rule the world and to have the most beautiful woman fall madly in love with him. But what he gets is Rincewind, Discworld's most incompetent wizard, and Rincewind's luggage, Discworld's most dangerous travel accessory. This brand new adaptation of Terry Pratchett's hilarious parody of the Faust legend is an outrageous romp through time, space and hell that will leave Eric wishing once more – this time, quite fervently – that he'd never been born.

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