REVIEW: Maskerade, University Drama Studio

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Stephen Brigg’s adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novel has obvious nods to Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera with a couple of sorcerer sleuths to hunt down the killer thrown in for good measure.

The Company’s latest outing is not one of their finest. The play is slow and plodding and the jokes very hit and miss. I enjoyed director Emma Portus’s production of Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters but this time the script isn’t up to scratch.

The acting however is sound and the characters well cast. Most stage time is taken by the two witches Granny Weatherwax, played by Sara James and Nanny Ogg (Ken Rowe). The latter enjoys some of the better lines. Commenting on opera singer, Senor Basilica’s lifestyle (s)he says “He has an easy life he just eats, sings and sleeps”.

Jenni Thompson is the third potential witch Agnes (Perdita) Nitt who runs away to be an opera singer. Her gothic looks aren’t stereotypical opera so she sings whilst pretty girl Christine (Emma Fisher) mimes.

Mr Salzella played by Neil Sullivan has a fine line in laconic irony. When Glenn Robert’s owner Seldom Bucket complains about the cost of ballet shoes, Sullivan suggests the dancers spend more time in the air to make it cheaper. Sullivan also manages to deliver a stuttering soliloquy during a never-ending death scene. Ben Bater hams it up as neurotic Walter Pinge. Steven Garner puts in a much-needed amusing cameo as unnerving rat-catcher Mr Pounder. Whatever happens, remember, the show must go on.