first night

Thief of Time

It's Pratchett time at Ooook! again, and Emily Jones takes a leap into the unknown ...


“It is written”… that this adaptation of Pratchett’s twenty-sixth work, Thief of Time, explores the elaborately profound and intricate levels of life, death, time and existence in a compilation of irregular sequences, held together in one truth-telling, mystical and humorous bundle.

Within this outing into Discworld, Ooook! Productions have taken their audience to a place which is undoubtedly familiar, as there is a distinct need for pre-established knowledge to fully grasp the play. The introductory video and use of narrator provides a rushed backdrop to the franchise, but even the most informed fans struggle to maintain the pace of the storytelling here.

It is through the medium of science fiction, teamed with copious amounts of smoke and lighting effects, which draws together elements of both the historic and futuristic in the play. There is some disharmony between the disjointed nature of Pratchett and the need for smooth transitions on stage, in which case it appears that the directional choice was to lengthen the scenes. Primarily time - as a central concept to the tale - appears to be its largest downfall; running at almost three hours long it begins to detract from the positivity its characters receive.

The wit and wordplay of the script, however, turns what started as a somewhat awkward comedy with outlandish ideals into a well choreographed show. The play’s largest selling point is its comedy and it certainly maintains an endearing air of the pantomime about it; with Kalil Copley as ‘Lu-Tze’ acting the dame and Zach Cave in his role as the young, shining, yet apprehensive hero. Mingled with flying chocolates and the occasional banter with audience members, an absurd atmosphere is created, carried on in the plot and costume choices. Although, in an irrevocable and undeniable manner, it appears it was Chaz Pitman’s almost demonic depiction of ‘Igor’ which really stole the show. His scrunched up face and painted on stitches were no match for the constancy of his Quasimodo stance and gruff voice. In many ways he carried the production, alongside the responsibilities given by his master.

It is the paradox of the production that in endeavoring to eradicate the messiness of time, it becomes both the ‘cause and cure’ of the action, for the audience. The trouble posed with the overt nature of the Pratchett tale, is that its characters become an immediate barrier. The directional instruction to form the chorus of ‘auditors’ as feigned humans and a gradual increase in props gave way to a capacity to find a rushed semblance of reality within such an outlandish narrative.

This said, the actors made an excellent use of the space in the Assembly Rooms. Not only on and off stage, but through doors too, and it seemed not uncommon to find some characters striking up conversation behind you, or walking past you as you sit concealed in the darkness of the audience. In this sense, there is a commendable attempt at engulfing us into Pratchett’s skewed world. It is at times carelessly warped, and uncertainty is prevalent. Yet through the teacher-master construction, which is used to open and end the play, we finally see an embodiment of sense and structure, through a cyclical kind of closure, embedded within this fantastical subject matter.

Despite its niche nature and occasional tendency to isolate its audience with its frantic sequences and mythical backdrop, this play carries it off well. The impressive array of effort from the technical team is, of course, to be commended; however, the comic strand of satire ingrained in the narrative is where it truly shines. In the end, its lengthy nature leaves you feeling relieved and triumphant as the chaos and hardships have been overcome and you can once more enter back into a more subdued reality.



Emily Jones

15 February 2013

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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