30 January 2014

Monstrous Productions scores a hat trick with Mort [stage play review]

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, 29th January 2014
After being taken to a job fair by his father, a surprising employer offers teenage Mort an apprenticeship: Death. The immortal skeleton has decided he needs a break from "The Duty", and Mort is his ticket.

Mort is introduced to Death’s domain, meeting his human daughter, and former wizard manservant. However, in an act of kindness while out on the job, he alters the course of history by foiling the assassination of Princess Keli.

This creates an alternate reality that is up to Mort to put right. Meanwhile, Death goes to explore what being a human is all about, with hilarious consequences.

Monstrous Productions is an ambitious theatre company, that's for sure. Hot on the heels of the success of their adaptation of Carpe Jugulum, where they tackled some of Pratchett's most loved characters, they follow it up with an even more beloved and ever-present face from the Discworld - Death.

This was done brilliantly. Matthew Churchill's deadpan performance (and excellent make-up) was an instant hit with the audience from the first booming syllable. Even as the more human elements of his personality begin to creep in, his monotone boom and stoic presence makes the funnies even funnier.

Also great was Craig Harper's take on Mort, and the juxtaposition between himself and Death was excellent. Both leads worked flawlessly with one another, and Mort's good-natured fool served as an excellent counterpoint to Death's grim demeanour (excuse the pun).

Tip of the cap goes to Laura Kendrick, who played her Ysabell like an older Vanellope von Schweetz (from Wreck-It Ralph) to great effect, and also Nick Dunn, whose brief but brilliant performance of Rincewind was spot-on (take note, David Jason - this is how you play Rincewind!).

As with Carpe Jugulum before it, director Amy Davies has added a new element to this production. This time around the audience were treated to an Ankh-Morpork market scene  for a full 15 minutes before the play began, which set the mood perfectly with a number of visual gags and punes (or plays on words) to please all Discworld fans. The arguments and haggling between Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler (played by Philip Jones) and the punters had me in giggles instantly.

Mort was a delight to watch, and it's safe to say that Monstrous have scored a their third hit in a row. Director Davies has said that she's reluctant to put on a performance of anything involving Discworld favourite Sam Vimes as it would be too challenging - with a track record like this, I don't think they've anything to worry about.

About Jamie
Jamie Gibbs is a life-long geek and leans towards anything with sorcery, dragons or obscure pop culture references.
You can follow him on his Google+ or Twitter profiles for a daily dose of fanboy discourse.


  1. Definitely scores big on originality. I can picture someone doing a younger von Schweetz.

    1. It was a hell of a lot of fun, and I'm really glad that they're doing another at the end of the year :)

  2. I wasn't too impressed with the David Jason take on Rincewind or the films of the first two books. Sounds like this production was closer to the mark.

    Moody Writing

    1. That's what you get when you let the guy who's funding the production call the shots, sadly. A much better job was done here - bumbling, timid and overtly British.

  3. Aww this sounds like a lot of fun!

    1. That it was - and best of all, it was local :)


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