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Going Postal

Sunday, 31 January, 2010

A Discworld Drama

Reading – Progress Theatre – 28 January to 6 February 10 – 19:45 (3.00)

Going Postal the play is a thinly veiled satire on the closure of post offices and corruption within the Royal Mail and government officials.

Director Christine Moran keeps the story moving in a character-heavy production which includes a vampire, a zombie, wizards, golems and a pirate, through many scenes and much set changing, which distracts from the action and makes it confusing.  Those unfamiliar with Discworld could get a bit lost.

Moist Von Lipvig played by Owen Goode is a likeable anti-hero who manages to save the post office and win the heart of alpha female Adora Dearheart.  Zsuzsi Kingsnorth is the fearless strong willed Adora Dearheart with chain smoking ease.  Unfortunately the couple lacks chemistry with more heat emanating from the tip of Adora’s cigarette.

Lord Vetinari played by Dan Clarke forces Lipvig to become the Post Master as a punishment for forgeries.  Dan Clarke is dressed as a B movie villain with dark slicked back hair, goatee and a long black coat with buttons to his feet.  A suitably Hammer Horror menacing performance but licence for more ham and extra cheese.

Costume design by Tom Bradbrook and Aidan Moran is impressive from Moist Von Lipvig’s gold jacket, trousers and winged hat to Alex McCubbin’s Mr Pump who’s attired in an orangey red clay outfit with bright green LED eyes which shines when the lights go down.  The golems – there is another one – Anghammarad played by Carole Brown are modern day slaves who attempt to purchase their freedom from Adora Dearheart.  The sarcasm, futility and acceptance of their situation with the faint hope of self emancipation is well delivered.  Reacher Gilt played by Rik Eke is in charge of rival postal company The Trunk and dressed as a pirate, with an eye patch, red silk coat, white shirt, and white parrot on arm.  He has an authentic gravelly pirate voice which must be wearing on his throat over the run.

Liz Carroll as Junior Postman Groat is believable in a male role with fake gray hair and matching goatee.  A sweet silly character obsessed with rules, regulations and red tape rather than getting post delivered, but quickly won over by Lipwig’s new methods after getting promotion.  James Mould presents Apprentice Postman Stanley as a reasonably mixed up kid, obsessed with pins then stamps.

Fun portrayals and outfits from Louise Banks who played Wilkinson, Young Mrs Parker, Deaconess of Offler and Dan Clarke as Old Mr Parker, Robed Man with Boots, Mr Spools, Maitre D’ and Ponder Stibbons.  The wizards look suitably wizard-like and there is a very enjoyable magic window with a wizard stood at a jaunty angle.

Lizzy Nash played Sacharissa Cripstock the reporter for the Ankh-Morpork Times.  An accurate portrayal of an accurate reporter, it felt like looking into a mirror (one of those flattering ones) – hair tied back, glasses.  Sensible black dress.  Little notepad and pen.  Pertinent questions.

Set design by Aidan Moran and Martin Noble is not as successful as the costumes.  There were multiple set changes, nearly one for every change of scene, fifteen in the second half, which felt unnecessary for the story and broke up the action.  The walls are painted in a shade of dirty yellow which look – perhaps deliberately ugly – and induce a mild vomiting sensation.  Coloured lights are shone onto the stage when Lord Vetinari is in his chamber, the bright blue, red and green squares of light were a strong contrast with the yellow walls and aesthetically displeasing.  It was cold in the theatre and there was a bad smell.  The seats were comfortable.

The stage adapation of Going Postal by Steven Briggs retained the witty dialogue which Terry Prachett is renowned for, such as when the letters and parcels want Moist Von Lipvig to save the Post Office, they ask him to ‘Deliver Us’.

But the story became confused with the retention of too many characters, there were thirty nine speaking parts plus additional non speaking roles for a two and a half hour play plus interval, with upwards of thirty scenes.  It felt over complicated for the plot.  However tempting it is to retain all the wonderful funny silly characters from the Discworld universe, this production could have benefitted from a dispassionate cropping.

Cast Credits:  (alpha order):  Louise Banks – Wilkinson / Young Mrs Parker / Deaconess of Offler.  Karen Bird – Stowley.  Carole Brown – Anghammarad / Miss Maccalariat.  Ali Carroll – Nutmeg / Coachman Harry.  Liz Carroll – Junior Postman Groat.  Dan Clarke – Old Mr Parker / Robed Man with Boots / Mr Spools / Maitre D’ / Ponder Stibbons.  Trevor Dale – Mr Slant / Mr Pony. Matthew Drury – Igor / Devious Collabone.  Rik Eke – Reacher Gilt.  Owen Goode – Moist von Lipwig.  Jesse Harte – Drumknott.  Philip Herbst – Young Mr Parker / Gryle / Sane Alex.  Christopher Hoult – Trooper / Pin Customer / Senior Postman Aggy / Archchancellor Ridcully.  Mandy King – Greenyham.  Zsuzsi Kingsnorth – Adora Belle Dearheart.  Alex McCubbin – Mr Pump.  James Mould – Apprentice Postman Stanley.  Lizzy Nash – Sacharissa Cripstock.  Peter O’Sullivan – Big Dave / Voice of the Poet / Coachman Bill.  Dan Powell – Lord Vetinari

Company Credits:  Writer – Terry Pratchett. Adapated by – Steven Briggs. Director – Christine Moran. Artistic Director – Aidan Moran.  Assistant Director – Matt Wellard.  Lighting Designer and Operator – Martin Noble. Sound Designer – Aidan Moran. Sound Operator – Martin Noble.  Stage Manager – Laura Mills. Assistant Stage Managers – Laura Gavin / Tony Powell / Emily Proctor / Emma Walsh. Set Design – Aidan Moran / Martin Noble.  Set Construction and Painting – Louise Banks / Ali Carroll / Liz Carroll / Dan Clarke / Rik Eke / Jamie Gilmour / Christopher Hoult / Pete Hughes / Mandy King / Alex McCubbin / Christine Moran / Aidan Moran / Heather Noble / Martin Noble / Peter O’Sullivan / Naomi Sykes / Helen Udale-Clarke / Michael Udale-Clarke.  Costume Designers – Tom Bradbrook / Aidan Moran.  Costume Team Leader – Zsuzsi Kingsnorth.  Costume Team – Liz Carroll / Sandra Gough / Jo James / Fiona McNeil / Emma Walsh / Helen Wright.  Make-Up Design – Emma Thomlinson.  Props Team Leader – Laura Mills.  Props Team – Laura Gavin / Glen Mills / Aidan Moran / Tony Powell / Emma Walsh.  Publicity – Dan Clarke / Fiona Dempsey / Christine Moran / Heather Noble / Abby Salter / Emma Walsh.  Poster Design – Aidan Moran.  Photographs – Mandy King.  Programme Editor – Graham Mitchell.  Box Office, Bar, FoH Rotas – Heather Noble.  Rehearsal Space Co-ordinator – Dorothy Grugeon.  Production Manager – Heather Noblehttp://www.progresstheatre.co.uk

(c) Wendy Thomson 2010

reviewed on Saturday 30th January 2010

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