28 Jun 2013

Carpe Jugulum [stage play review]

Carpe Jugulum poster
Carpe Jugulum
Adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs
Based on the book by Terry Pratchett
Directed by Amy Davies
Performed by Monstrous Productions
Saw at The Gate Theatre, Cardiff
Opening night, 26th June 2013
When a family of vampires arrives in Lancre, ready to take over the country in a ‘sort-of-bloodless’ coup it is up to Lancre’s newest witch, Agnes Nitt, to use her unusual powers to save the day, with the help of a hapless priest. With no sign of Granny Weatherwax it seems that these very modern vampires may very well be here to stay. A comedy involving witches, Igors and a nice cup of tea. Carpe Jugulum will be a performance to remember.
After the success of their previous production, Monstrous Regiment, I was pretty excited to see another Discworld adaptation. This one would be a challenge since it features the Witches, arguably some of Pratchett's best known and best loved characters.

The production value of Carpe Jugulum was kicked up a notch from the previous production, with the addition of live music and a marionette puppet to play the part of the Frankenstein-esque mutt "Thcrapth". This added a little something extra to a theatre company that excels in leading with a great performance rather than relying on sets or props.

Once again, Pratchett's trademark humour shined through throughout. It was great to see characters adding little humourous touches here and there, such as Nanny Ogg swigging from her hip flask and getting quietly drunk when not the main focus of a scene, which caught more than a few giggles from the crowd.

There were a few sound issues with a recorded voiceover and occasionally Granny Weatherwax's lines came through too thick and fast to make out everything that was said (though the venue's acoustics didn't help) but otherwise the play was slick and well-paced.

One of the bigger challenges of the show was how to portray the shy witch Agnes Nitt and her uber-confident alter-ego Perdita. The move to use two different actresses was brilliant. The interaction between Agnes and Perdita was excellent and the actresses played off one another with ease.

The star of the show for me was Gytha Ogg, whose candid performance perfectly summed up the character "with no scruples". Tip of the cap also goes to the players who made up the de Magpye family of vampires; their dysfunctional bickering escalated into barely contained war with one another, taking the audience from laughter to shock and back again.

If you're a fan of Pratchett's Discworld, then Carpe Jugulum is an excellent rendition of a brilliant story with a fabulous cast. Monstrous Productions has pulled it out of the bag again, and I'm going to do my damnedest to encourage them to put on another.

About the author
Jamie Gibbs is the overlord of Mithril Wisdom as well as a terminal geek and great lover of sandwiches.You can follow him on his Google+ or Twitter profiles for a daily dose of fanboy rants.


  1. Not a Discworld fan, but I would definitely go see that play!

    1. Shame it's a super-local production

  2. Ah I wish I could see this!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

    1. They were looking for someone to film the closing night performance. You might still get a chance to see it :)

  3. Still one more night. Its on tomorrow (sat 29th) at 7:30 (doors at 7)

  4. Also thank you for the review :-) glad you enjoyed it

    1. Here's hoping for another production next year :)

  5. Sounds like a wonderful time. It's on my list to see more live performances.

    1. I've been meaning to see stage plays more often, and as a Pratchett fan I couldn't pass up the chance to see this :)


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