Terry Pratchett takes Shakespeare’s Macbeth and famously turns it up “till the knob comes off”.
The result is Wyrd Sisters which Midhurst Players are delivering to the town, in a stage adaptation by Stephen Briggs, directed by Mandy Carr. It’s all there – a wicked duke and duchess, the ghost of the murdered king, dim soldiers, strolling players, a land in peril. And who stands between the kingdom and destruction? Three witches. Granny Weatherwax (intolerant, self-opinionated, powerful), Nanny Ogg (down-to-earth, vulgar) and Magrat Garlick (naïve, fond of occult jewellery and bunnies).
Director Mandy joined the Players after the demise of the Graffham Rustics – and is delighted to be in charge.
“The play was the choice of the committee, but I absolutely love Terry Pratchett. I think there are so many layers. You can take it all at face value, but there is so much more. I love his comedy. He is one of the few people when I read him I roll around laughing… The committee didn’t want to do a pantomime this year. They did one last year that was hugely successful, but they wanted to do something still that had very wide appeal.
“You don’t need to know anything about Shakespeare and you don’t need to know anything about Pratchett. You can just come along and enjoy it. It’s a sort of Shakespeare meets Blackadder. It is very fast-moving. We jump from scene to scene all the time. It has got to be very slick. We are going to have some magic. I don’t want to give anything away, but the important thing is just making sure that it just all moves along very quickly, and the audience will really get into the characters.
“We have got a very big cast. We talking about 16 or 17 people, ranging from 12 years old up to grandparents, and people are doubling up. There are 30 odd characters in the play. Everyone is enjoying rehearsals so much, and it will be a great Christmastime family show. Children can enjoy the magic and the witches; and those people that know Shakespeare will enjoy all the references; and for the people that love Pratchett, we are keeping it as close to the original Pratchett story as possible.”
For Mandy, a retired teacher, it is a happy new chapter following the disappearance of the Graffham Rustics: “I was with them for 20 years, but sadly they are no more. For me, it was an easy decision to carry on because I wanted to keep acting and directing. But it was a great shame about the Rustics. Graffham is such a little village and out of the way. It was getting harder and harder, and we had fewer and fewer members. People were dying or just not acting any more, and in the end sadly we took the decision that we did not have enough people to make it viable.”
The Midhurst Players’ production of Wyrd Sisters runs from Wednesday, November 30 to Saturday, December 3 at the South Downs Centre Memorial Hall. Tickets on www.midhurstplayers.co.uk.
The cast includes: Granny Weatherwax (witch) – Sarah-Jayne Steed; Nanny Ogg (witch) – Tim Ashworth; Magrat Garlick (witch) – Alison Locke; Verence (the late old King) – Dennis Harrison; Leanal Felmet (Duke of Lancre) – James Woodley; Lady Felmet (Duchess) – Nicci Pennicott; Vitoller (actor manager) – Simon Worte; Mrs Vitoller – Mary Gliddon; Fool – James Justesen; Tomjon (son of Verence) – Chris Ackroyd-Parr; Hwel (playwright) – Neil Castle; Chamberlain – Andy Gilson; Sergeant – Ben Jull; and Demon – Sam Mason-Ross.The Coda Chamber Ensemble will perform the music of Pink Floyd in an atmospheric candlelit setting at the Chichester Inn in Chichester on November 26 at 8pm.
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