The Fifth Elephant
Paul Johnson | 24 Jan 2013 12:00pm
I had been looking forward to my trip to the progress Theatre after experiencing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern just a couple of months ago. It is a small but wonderfully intimate and friendly theatre situated in Reading. I still don’t understand fully how Terry Pratchett’s mind works even though I appeared as Albert in “Mort” a few years ago. And so it was that I settled down to see Progress’s performance of The Fifth Elephant. The show opened to a bare stage save that of a dog that had been asleep all the time the auditorium was filling with patrons – not a real dog I hasten to add, but actor Justin Harper in a dog suit playing the part of Gaspode. As the house lights faded, and the stage was lit, so Gaspode awoke and on seeing us started the story. He could have been the incarnation of a real dog as he started to speak – a cross between a growling bark and a human voice, but perfectly understandable. In fact if dogs could really speak, that is exactly as I would have expected to hear them. He played the part so well; it was just like having a real, albeit rather large dog on stage. Pretty soon the story started to come alive as we were transported between various areas of Disc-World with clever use of just a couple of hinged screens on wheels. As the story unfolded we met a couple of the city watch, Commander Sam Vimes and Captain Carrot. It transpired that Vimes (John Goodman) had also become a Duke through marriage to his dear wife Lady Sybil Diedre Olgivanna Ramkin-Vimes. (Ali Carroll). Vimes, Carrot, a the troll Sergeant Detrius – resplendent with a wonderful set of Menacing rock arms and upper torso, set off to search for the fifth elephant, you know, the one that fell off the Turtle that carried Disc-World (No, I didn’t know that either?) Throughout their expedition, Vimes, Detrius (Alex McCubbin), and Carrot (John Speed) were chased by Dwarves, Wolves, and Werewolves, and met Dukes, Barons, and Kings. All the characters were all splendid in their roles, and there were lots of them. There wasn’t a poor performance from any of them, and I did love the Glum Sisters. They weren’t on stage for long but managed to mention most of Chekhov’s works in their four minutes in front of the audience, including The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard, Uncle Vanya, and The Three Sisters. I will not name all the outstanding cast members from the play as I would have to list the whole cast. Christine Morgan, the Director, must be more than pleased with the end result. The lighting bought the whole thing together and the costumes and props were out of this world. Well, they would as it was set on Disc-World. To sum it up, I came away understanding the story a little more, but not much. But then again, you didn’t need to know the story as the whole cast thoroughly entertained me for the whole evening.
- : admin
- : 15/01/2013