The young actors of The Avondale Theatre Company performed Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters to a sold-out hall.
The Central on the end of West Tollcross isn’t a small space to sell out, either. It’s a large hall, a suitable venue and now I get to say I’ve been inside. I’ve always been curious.
I enjoyed the performance. The audience was full of North Americans of the age where should they have had children grown up as young thespians; those youngsters would now be making trips to Europe, and Scotland, for International Festivals. I’m calling it now – the audience was biased. They loved the show. We had appropriate and polite whoops and a buzz and dramatic murmurs when the action unfolded on the stage.
Don’t get me wrong. We might have had proud parents, flown all the way over the Atlantic, watching their children grow into young adults, but that does not diminish the genuine talent on stage. I wonder if I’ve seen a future TV or film star.
What to expect
Terry Pratchett, Sir Terry, was a funny fantasy author, and I’d consider myself a fan but not a learned fan. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the Pratchett I’ve read but have not tracked down all the books. I know of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, but don’t know them terribly well. I’d never heard of Magrat Garlick. Most importantly, I’ve not read the Discworld book Wyrd Sisters.
It didn’t matter. I propose you don’t need any Pratchett lore to enjoy The Avondale Theatre Company’s Wyrd Sisters. You just need to know that witches do magic and imagine that some people might fear them, others quite like a wise woman around to help the village.
The action starts with the Witches sort of rescuing a baby. However, the main plot is far more Shakespearean, given that a King has been slain and the throne taken by his unpleasant and ambitious cousin.
What follows involves the ghost of the old king, the wisdom of a Court Jester and the Witches refusing to meddle in the kingdom’s politics as they busily meddle in the kingdom’s politics.
Much of the scenery is represented by actors in masks. Pretty much everyone wore masks. At any point, should you spy a character on stage without a mask, then they’re going to be one of the significant characters. The witches most of them wear masks. The trees wear masks. The dungeon gates wear masks. The caldron, soldiers, queen and playwrights all had masks. I wasn’t used to that, but it took about three seconds to get used, and then I got back into the play.
The Wyrd Sisters troupe offers a solid performance with plenty of proper smiles and some laughs. I was right in the middle of the audience and struggled to hear the lines occasionally, but this was infrequent enough for it to be notable when it happened.
If there were any line fumbles, I didn’t notice, and the changes between sets were super-quick and tight.
I imagine it was a thorny challenge to take Pratchett’s 368-page book, which is likely extraordinarily heavy with footnotes, and adapt it to a stage play. I think Wyrd Sisters does that very well, and the actors then brought that to life with equal aplomb.
The whole show, and I rarely go to the theatre, held my attention from start to finish.
The Wyrd Sisters play is a must for Pratchett fans and a strong candidate for anyone looking to see some theatre during Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival. It’s a young troupe but a talented one.
There are murders, romance and the supernatural, but it felt like a safe show for kids. The official rating is 12+.
I’m not calling this Shakespeare but funny because the bard was funny enough, but this is Pratchett, that might remind you of more than one of Shakespeare’s plays.