I think most peopIe know I’ve been fan of the Lichfield Players for many years now but it looks to me as if David Titley’s new production of Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies must be one of their most ambitious shows to date, an elaborate ensemble piece which would tax the resources of a large national and heavily subsidised company. That The Players manage to bring it off is a huge tribute to their legendary professionalism, their mutual generosity and let’s face it, their sheer talent.
With its clever sets, original costumes and make-up (especially the punky elves) plus the myriad detailed sound and lighting cues one can only guess at the hard work that has gone into it overall.
If the complex plot’s occasionally a little opaque for those of us not fully initiated into Mr. Pratchett’s Discworld it doesn’t really matter because there are gags aplenty and droll wordplay that gives this show a kind of mystical panto aura. And if the proceedings show even the slightest sign of turning dull Mr. Titley introduces some brisk slapstick business to keep the bus rolling merrily along.
In a huge cast there are inevitably going to be some stars I just can’t mention for reasons of space but heading the roster of acting almost beyond the call of duty are Players’ veterans Gina Martin and Adrienne Swallow as the two getting-on-a-bit witches, Gina delightfully dignified as the savant who ultimately saves the day and Adrienne vivaciously down-to-earth as the bucolic earth-mother who may have magic powers but isn’t averse to a bit of rumpy-pumpy (well, it’s that kind of show – think the Archers on acid). The overall effect is enhanced by the presence of a lovely band of rustics (dead ringers for Shakespeare’s comic mechanicals) whose morris-dancing tour de force got the loudest applause of the night.
But the mainstay of the show is Sarah Stanley as Magrat Garick the pretty young witch and fiancée of King Verence (Ian Davies). Ms. Stanley carries this role which links the whole play together seemingly effortlessly, from her naive village-girl beginnings to her ultimate assumption of Queenly power that brings happy fruitfulness to her new kingdom.
I must also mention the very promising newcomer James Bentley as the slightly gormless lieutenant Shawn, Rosemary Bodger in the tiny role of Magrat’s maid and young Lewis Stanley (is this his theatrical debut?) as Pewsy Ogg.
If you want a rest from international dramas and accompanying gloom, take this time out, just for you. The show runs in the Garrick Main House until Saturday (February 4). For tickets phone the box office on 01543 412121 or go online at www.lichfieldgarrick.com.