This play is an abridged version of the stage adaptation of late novelist Terry Pratchett’s sixth Discworld book which is in itself a parody of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Confused? Don’t worry; all the tropes are there: three witches, a murdered king, an ambitious wife and a child with a destiny and possibly a crown. Duck in a Hat theatre company have been bringing adaptations of Stephen Briggs’ Discworld plays to the Fringe since 2015 and this isn’t a bad addition to their resume.
A charming performance of story by one of the great British authors
The three witches carry most of the story, so their casting is critical to the success of this play. We are not disappointed with the Maiden, Mother and Crone presented to us: Naoise Murphy is a perfectly wet Magrat, Jess Batterbury shows real skill with comic timing as Nanny Ogg and Georgia Cassarino nails the perpetual disapproval of Granny Weatherwax. The play really flies when all three are on stage and they bicker and banter with the affection and annoyance that these characters should have for each other. Other standout performances include Hywel Thomas’ Duke; he’s twitchy and wild eyed and plays very well against Hannah Sanderson’s deliciously Machiavellian Duchess.
The direction, though, is somewhat lacking; a few of the scenes drag and there are far too many moments where the cast stand in a line onstage and deliver dialogue, but that’s also an issue of the limited space with which they have to work. The adaptation is tight but reducing a two act play to 90 minutes means that some of the funnier scenes that don’t actually drive the plot are cut and the play loses a little of its charm for it.
However, this is a charming performance of story by one of the great British authors and if you’re a fan of the Discworld novels, you’ll enjoy this show. If you’ve never read any of these stories set on a flat world on the back of four giant elephants that fly through space on a huge turtle, then this play is a great introduction.