Lords and Ladies debuted this week at Norwich’s Theatre Royale, a farcical youth production based on the 1992 novel by Terry Pratchet. The play promised silliness, magic and comic nonsense, and it certainly delivered.
The action of the story centred around the witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg (expertly portrayed by Heather New and Christy Gosling), who stand as their land’s only hope when an insidious company of elves threaten to take over. Flanked with delightful side plots including a royal wedding, an orangutan librarian, and of course the highwayman-turned-lady-killer aristocratic dwarf (without which no play would be complete), the story weaves its way to its conclusion with delightful synchronisation, echoing Pratchett’s own unique narrative voice: enchanting and ridiculous.
The actors took on their roles masterfully, and quickly eliminated any trepidation caused by their age. Although clunky in parts, the comic timing between characters with larger roles created a rapport that had the audience unquestionably on their side. This is undoubtedly due to the stand out performances of Gosling, Aaron Stokes as Cassanunda, and special commendation to New, who really stole the show with an expert delivery of wit and character. Dialogue aside, some clever uses of pyrotechnics and physical comedy made the play especially memorable and charming.
As much as the acting and on-stage chemistry were delightful, the delivery of the story itself did leave something to be desired. Confusing at points, the plot seemed to trail off a little towards the middle of the play and the climax felt rushed, with some details foreshadowed in the first act seeming to drop out of frame completely. This is understandable: the source material is a retelling of a myth, and re-contextualising a re-contextualised mythology is always going to be difficult, especially with the litany of hilarious and complicated characters in Pratchett’s Discworld.
Lords and Ladies is being performed at Norwich Theatre Royal Thursday 14th December and Saturday 16th of December.