The Prospect Playhouse curtain is set to go up on Terry Pratchett’s Mort this Wednesday, offering a ghoulish Halloween treat.
Part of Pratchett’s popular Discworld series, Mort was first published in 1987, and adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs.
Staged by the Cayman Drama Society, Mort offers an endearing outlook on life and death. The play tells the tale of Mort, a simple young man who is hired as Death’s apprentice. He is soon accompanying Death on his soul-gathering rounds, but when Death goes on holiday and Mort fills in, things don’t go quite to plan.
Entertainment editor Joanna Lewis sits down with the play’s director, Caroline Neale, to find out what’s in store for the audience.
Why did you decide to choose Mort?
I chose Mort because it’s one of my favourite Terry Pratchett books. It’s the first one that Death really gets a good meaty role. Additionally, in reading the notes in the play, Stephen Briggs, who adapted the book for the stage, said that his group have managed to perform the play with only seven cast members, so I figured it would be relatively easy. I was wrong! Mr. Briggs is a genius if he has performed this play with only seven people. I have 20 cast members and most of them have double, triple or quadruple parts.
What genre does the play fall into?
It’s funny, it has some action, some romance, some whimsy, and it all takes place on a Discworld – so not your average earth bound play.
Who will the play appeal to?
The play will appeal to everyone I believe, although it probably wouldn’t appeal to very young children. We have a hulking great big skeleton with a scythe, a witch, a slew of wizards, a spoiled princess, all the sort of things that would appeal to theatre going folk of all ages.
Anything in particular about the play which you feel will really appeal to the audience?
I think the general whimsy of the play and the fact that Death himself is quite a character. There is quite a pantomime feel to the play but without the over-drama of a pantomime. It will be a generally good night out.
Any special effects?
There are indeed special effects, but I can’t tell you what they are as that would be giving it away.
Tell me about the cast.
Several of our people are brand new to the stage and are doing an excellent job. Some are new to CDS but have acted overseas and some are veterans both of CDS and acting in general. Some people are new to the island too, so it was great to get them involved and to personally be a part of their very first experience at CDS.
Who’s taken on the lead role of Mort?
Mort is being played by Ross Grater, an experienced actor. He was most recently in A Christmas Carol as Bob Cratchitt. Although Ross didn’t look the part, his manner and the fact that he knew the character Mort, as he is himself an avid Terry Pratchett fan, sold us on casting him as Mort. He’s doing an excellent job in turning back a few years and becoming a clumsy, self-conscious 16-year-old boy.
Have you kept true to the script?
I have been true to the script, all changes need to go through Mr. Briggs. We have tinkered with some of the scene changes, and in some places split the stage and action happens on one side of the stage and the lights then switch to the other side.
Any challenges with this particular production?
Well this is the first time I am directing by myself, so it has been a challenge. I have a newfound respect for the work that directors do. Contrary to what I originally thought, acting is way easier than directing! I couldn’t have managed to do all I have done without my producer Janine Nyyssonen though. Janine is also producing for the first time, so we’ve learned a lot as we have been going along.
Is this the first Terry Pratchett play for the CDS?
Yes, this is the first time the CDS has staged any of Terry Pratchett’s books as plays, so I’m very excited to see how the humour translates to an audience. Because I find the books and the scripts wryly humorous, I’m hoping the audience get it too. I have also been surprised to find how many Pratchett fans there are on island. I hope people come out and really enjoy the play so that perhaps more will be encouraged to put on these type of plays.
What’s special about the opening night on Halloween?
We are asking that the audience come in costume. During the intermission we will give out prizes for the best costumes. Also, the first 15 children under the age of 12 will receive a candy bag. Where better to be on Halloween night where everyone is dressed up and you have some good entertainment at the same time.
Production dates are 31 October, 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 15, 16, 23 and 24 November. Tickets are $20, $10 for children under 12. Call the box office on 949-5054.