Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters

Cheriton Players  Cheriton Village Hall, Cheriton  Anne Waggott 24 April 2024

Welcome to Terry Pratchett’s wonderful fantasy Discworld®, complete with a cutthroat duke and duchess, a murdered king who still haunts his kingdom, witless soldiers, strolling players, and a country in grave danger… But who stands between this Realm and devastation? Three witches: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and novice witch Magrat Garlick.

Terry Pratchett® converges with Shakespeare… Two of my favourite writers, so naturally I leapt at the opportunity to review Cheriton Players’ latest production, Wyrd Sisters. It’s been a few years since I’ve had the pleasure of viewing this excellent group, so as well as looking forward to seeing the play, I admit I was also a little nervous. Would the Cheriton Players be as good as I remembered, or would I be sorely disappointed by their interpretation of Pratchett’s magical Discworld®?

Rest assured, with a warm reception from the welcoming FOH team, the humorous pre-show warning to switch off mobile phones and the production itself, this was a most enjoyable evening of entertaining escapism!

While Terry Pratchett® adapted the most famous parts of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet for his novel, and Stephen Briggs further adapted Pratchett’s original Discworld® story of the same title for the stage, Wyrd Sister somehow retains a fresh and witty quality to its dialogue. Of course, this means nothing if the delivery falters… but fear not, it doesn’t!

It’s very challenging to recreate the magical landscape and bustling cities of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld® with an amateur theatre’s modest special effects budget and when played on a small village hall stage. However, with just a few set tweaks between scenes, several very helpful pointer signs to guide the audience through the scenes and locations, super costumes (on loan from Solva Amateur Dramatic Society, Pembrokeshire) and some creative ingenuity from Peter Wilde, Jamie Herdman and Graham Arnott (Lighting and Sound), I felt transported to the lands of Lancre and Ankh-Morpork. It’s a credit to Director Jane Wild and the entire cast that on opening night the storytelling flowed beautifully, bringing the characters to life.

Helen Gomm (Granny Weatherwax, pompous, self-proclaimed head of the Witches’ Coven), Helen Gard (Nanny Ogg, pragmatic and outlandish) and Rebecca Leadley (Magrat, openminded, naïve and inexperienced) make a deliciously irreverent trio of witches, with distinctive individual characters and combining together as a spirited collective.

Ben Gander (Leonal Felmet, Duke of Lancre) and Bernadette Lomas (Lady Felmet) effortlessly switch between the gravitas befitting one of Shakespeare’s most notorious pair of antiheroes and the comedy of pantomime villains. David Cradduck is most regal as the understandably vexed ghost of Verence, King of Lancre, whilst he also demonstrates his comedic skill in a delightful cameo as the hapless Sargeant, sent forth by the Duke to capture the Wyrd Sisters. There are also delightful cameo performances from the ensemble actors as they flit between characters and accents in their supporting roles.

However, standout performance for me comes from Craig Robb as the Duke’s Fool; as the reluctant court jester with a heart of gold, and a much sharper intellect than is obviously apparent, he creates a memorable character with every word, gesture and facial expression, reminiscent of Dobby from Harry Potter fame, but with glimpses of a serious dramatic actor behind the foolish persona as he briefly emerges from his subservient role.

This is a charming and endearing production of one of Terry Pratchett’s best known and much-loved books. I understand that the run is now sold out, so if you don’t already have a ticket, you have missed out on a enchanting production. If you are one of the lucky ticketholders, then sit back, allow yourself to be carried away to a faraway flat world, balanced on the backs of four elephants who are standing on the back of a giant turtle, and immerse yourself in a universe of magic, mystery and make-believe. You won’t be disappointed!

(Terry Pratchett® and Discworld® are registered trademarks)