On Wednesday night, DramSoc will make a triumphant return to the Union Concert Hall with a production of Terry Pratchett?s 'Mort', adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs. This promises to be a play full of the surreal plots and slightly dark humour one expects of Pratchett.
'Mort' tells the story of Death hiring an apprentice. Mort (short for Mortimer) is the one boy left in the town without an apprenticeship, when, at the stroke of midnight, Death himself appears and offers to take the boy under his wing.
Mort is ensconced in Death?s abode, introduced to Death?s adopted daughter Isabelle and, as his first lesson in the secrets of time and space, cleans out the stable of Death?s horse, Binkie. Mort accompanies his mentor on the ?rounds,? until eventually Death decides that the young apprentice is ready to do a round by himself.
As one might expect, Mort?s first round does not go according to plan when he takes the wrong person to the afterlife. Here, the plot becomes even more surreal as history splits into two separate microcosms, in which events have happened slightly differently, and one version of events closes in on the other as history tries to heal itself. It says something about Pratchett?s style that the audience accepts this twist as if it made perfect sense.
DramSoc have made a very enjoyable play out of Briggs' script. The dress rehearsal suffered from a few mistakes and forgotten lines and I was informed that the actor playing Death was ?still working on the character? and would have it ready in time for the opening night. In my opinion, he doesn't have too much more work to do!
Some of the actors seemed occasionally awkward on the stage, and I found the actor playing Mort left a little to be desired. Whilst Mort is supposed to be a shy and confused character, a little more conviction was needed in the delivery, which can surely be provided for the opening night. This is easily overlooked, however, and the cast click very well. The actor playing a front door manages remarkably well despite being covered in gold paint and having to speak with a large ring gripped between his teeth.
The set is nicely designed and well coordinated, and the costumes are done very well for the most part. Death looks particularly good in full cape and makeup, and the audience can rest assured that DramSoc will not be fielding their best actors in just a set of Halloween costumes.
Writing this puts me at the mercy of every Terry Pratchett fan in Imperial College, so I must add a disclaimer: I have not read Mort, and am in no position to say how true the play is to the book. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the performance, which is humorous throughout, well delivered, and very accessible to those who haven?t read Pratchett. If the technical crew can sort out the timing, and Mort can take to the stage with a little more energy, then this will definitely be an evening well spent.