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Boundary Players - Mort

6th to 10th May 2014.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Boundary Players dice with death

Boundary Players: Terry Pratchett's Mort, at the William Penney Theatre, Tadley, from Tuesday, May 6 to Saturday, May 10

A Discworld novel, a fantasy by Terry Pratchett, Mort tells the story of a young man who is given a job by Death, the Grim Reaper himself, learns how to help people make the transition into the next world and as he becomes familiar with the operation, starts to behave like his employer.

Meanwhile, Death is trying to become a bit more 'human' and takes a job as a short order cook. In McDonald's perhaps?

Mort himself gets into all sorts of trouble preventing a death he should merely be supervising.

Pratchett's colourful tale, adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs, is a rather big ask for any drama company; a long play in a large number of short scenes, which should zip along at a pace similar to a brisk farce.

Sadly, they didn't in this production; there were longish delays between some scenes and with one set and a series of curtains arrangement, there were too many occasions when stage staff almost collided with actors and curtains were not drawn fully across.

Director Michelle Middleditch also appeared in a small part and was obscured by a curtain for the first two minutes.

As a spectacle though, this oddball play worked well in parts; the costumes were generally very good, in particular David White's skeleton in a black cloak with shining blue eyes. He was very good throughout as Death, as indeed was Gavin Crowe as Mort and Pat Archer gave a sympathetic reading as the rather sad daughter of Death, Ysabell.

Louise Hayling gave a spirited performance as Princess Keli and she also appeared as Lezek, Mort's father, but with a somewhat high voice for a man. Alan Munday was amusing and convincing as Albert, Death's servant.

Not an easy play to pull-off successfully and a bit more rehearsal with attention to pacing would have helped.