by Terry Pratchett, adapted by Stephen Briggs
22-25 November 2011
An opera house, a phantom, a soprano and a rat catcher, plus a cast of witches, footpads, trolls, a cheesemaker plus a very naughty recipe book. It can only be Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade, based on The Phantom Of The Opera but with laughs.
Gulay Tas Pereira drew an idea for a costume that we couldn’t create in real life, but the sketch made for a brilliant poster.
Review in Chelsfield Village Voice
In this parody of The Phantom of the Opera, although with less singing, and a much more interesting story line, the Chelsfield Players brought a fictional city set on a flat planet on the back of four elephants, a cast of thousands, well, about 30, with witches, two phantoms, an evil chocolate loving cat and a naughty recipe book (the Joye of Snacks) to Chelsfield Village. This was the world of Terry Pratchett.
The hall was set up differently for this play with a wide centre aisle and a ramp up on to the stage with no use of the curtains. An ominously swinging chandelier thankfully stayed in place not too far from where I was sitting.
Notable amongst newcomers to the players were Diana McDonnell, a strong and straight performance at the core of all the madness as Agnes Nitt who had run away to join the opera and Stevie Davidson, a gloriously “hammy” Christine, the popular but talentless opera star. I look forward to seeing more performances from both of them.
It is difficult to decide who should receive special mention from such a strong group of performers. The players were well cast and gave their all in the play. I particularly enjoyed the double act of Madeline McCubbin and Philippa Rooke as witches Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax. Michael Wortley, whose transformation from Frank Spencer-like Walter Plinge to proud Phantom just with the addition of a mask (and the loss of the beret and mac) was striking. A worthy last appearance for the actor in Chelsfield Village. The other phantom was the alter ego of the opera house’s musical director Mr Salzella, who confessed to disliking opera. In this role, David Pascoe, treated us to a protracted operatic death which prompted Granny Weatherwax to say “Ah, now the opera’s over”. And it was.
The script was full of the dry wit of Terry Pratchett with a discovery of Walter’s compositions including such titles as Guys and Trolls, Miserable Les and The Enchanted Piccolo.
Numerous scene changes were undertaken on different parts of the extended stage, with clever use of lighting. This enabled the play to proceed briskly but smoothly.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and it sounded as though everyone else did too – cast and audience alike.
A retiring collection for the Alzheimer’s Society was appropriate for two reasons – the recent death of Vanessa Bailey, an Alzheimer’s sufferer and Terry Pratchett’s well publicised battle with the illness.
A view from the stalls