Reviewed by Donald Madgwick for The Croydon Advertiser
When Mort, described as a callow youth, accepts an apprenticeship with Death, he little knows what he is letting himself in for.
But this is Discworld, the dislocated abode of author terry Pratchett’s imagination; as strange in its way as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and likewise invested with its own system of logic.
Of course Mort (in the feminine) is itself French for Death, so Mortimer (as he prefers to be called) is already halfway there.
But when, in his professional capacity, he intervenes to kill the assassin who is about to despatch the Princess Keli, such interference with the fabric of reality brings in its train a surprising and sinister chain of consequences.
I confess I have not read Partchett’s book, and the stage adaptation by Stephen Briggs is at times hard to follow. Not that I think it matters all that much whether its labyrinthine complexity is always crystal clear.
The chase is the thing, and in this respect Mike Brown’s pacy production certainly gives us a roller-coaster of a ride.
Abundant atmosphere is created by Richard Lloyd’s cavernous-voiced death, whom we are often unsure whether to applaud or execrate. As Mort, Peter Bird bears the burden of a busy plot with light shoulders, like some careless hero from a boys’ magazine.
Assisting him (when she is not impeding his progress) is the attractive Tatiana Allison as Death’s adopted daughter Ysabell, who has been 19 for the past 35 years, and looks well on it.
There is a terrific performance from Chris Argles as Death’s manservant Albert, who grows to monstrous wizardry until, losing his staff, he sinks back into the servitude from which he emerged.
The sizeable cast afford moments both humorous and bizarre, with Paul Breden taking the palm as the wizard Cutwell.
Paul M Ford
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