Cambridge's leading amateur theatre production company

Established 1981

Maskerade
adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs from the novel by Terry Pratchett   directed by Barry Brown

The ADC Theatre, Cambridge, December 2015

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A Review of Maskerade
by Chris Shinn

I remember Maskerade as being the very first Discworld book that I read, many years ago now.Written in 1995, it was the eighteenth in the hugely popular series of comic fantasy novels depicting the inhabitants of a world that was supported by four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle. Whereas many of the books parody and satirise things like the police, the university, the postal system etc. Maskerade sends up the world of opera.  Following on from his production of The Wyrd Sisters in 2013, director Barry Brown has now sufficientlyrecovered to tackle Maskerade. The programme is adorned with his drawings of all the characters and he had a huge hand in the film show projected onto the screen on stage at the beginning, end and sometimes in the middle of the show. The opera house setting was well portrayed by two opera boxes, complete with curtains set down left and right, the latter being box eight which was the domain of the theatre ghost. The proscenium too was beautifully made and suitably adorned the auditorium.

 There was also an excellent painted backdrop depicting the city from the top of the opera house. Two of the main characters in this story are the witches, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. Having got the hang of it two years previously Madeleine Forrester and Mandi Cattell reprised the two roles to very good effect. There was some lovely delivery of lines from both as they threaded their way through the not too convoluted plot. There were good performances all round from the twenty strong cast, with some playing three or four characters. I particularly enjoyed Peter Simmons as Mr Salzella the musical director. Peter has a terrific stage presence and makes the whole thing seem effortless.  James Inman was good as a suitably brash northern former cheese making opera house owner and Kate Cattermole as Perdita Nitt and Sarah Middle as Christine complemented each other very well. Colin Lawrence caught the character of Enrico Basilica the Italian Londoner gastronomic opera singer well as did Guy Marshall as the put upon Walter Plinge, who was suitably transformed when wearing Phill Brown gave a good portrayal as Andre, Mike Milne and Sean Baker made the most of their multiple roles as did Jonathan Totman as Dr Underschaft and a particularly convincing Greebo the cat. These were well supported by Rosemary Eason as Mrs Plinge, whilst Ken Eason and Martin George as well as their characters, doubled as scene shifters suitably in that character.

The costumes and makeup were all very good and appropriate. I did find a couple of the background sound effects slightly too loud at times making the dialogue harder to hear and the lighting, though generally good did seem to be a bit quick off the mark on some of the scene changes. Perhaps this was deliberate but I found it slightly disconcerting. Congratulations to Barry and everyone involved in the production. All in all this was an enjoyable evening for Discworld fans young and old and may well have encouraged people who are unfamiliar with the books to dip into the strange and funny world of the late Sir Terry Pratchett.