Iain Robinson's Sentinel Review of Terry Pratchett's 'Mort'. 8th December 2010.
Theatre review: Mort, Stoke Repertory Theatre
THE Rep has earned a reputation over the years for its ability to bring challenging literary works to the stage, and this latest offering from The Rep Players is no exception.
Mort is a collaboration between traditional stage acting and digital projection wizardry, using computer-generated video sequences to introduce the unfamiliar viewer to author Terry Pratchett's celebrated creation, Discworld.
This surreal setting provides the backdrop for Pratchett's fourth and most successful novel, relating the tale of awkward teenager Mort and his unlikely apprenticeship as Death's assistant.
The job is not without its perks – never ageing, being able to stop time and the power to reap souls for starters.
But for Mort the role presents a moral dilemma which his jaded, scythe-wielding master seems content to overlook – if you have the power to take a life, do you also have a responsibility to prevent it from being taken unjustly?
When Mort is assigned to collect the soul of a beautiful young princess, he discovers that she is about to be murdered, and intervenes without hesitation, breaking the cardinal rule of his timeless profession.
He soon learns that all actions have consequences, and when you inadvertently create a parallel reality they can be quite severe.
Director John Collier has assembled a strong cast for this production.
Brian Hadley is very entertaining as Death, who tires of his endless occupation and yearns to find happiness and friendship.
And Brian Rawlins delivers a great performance as Death's faithful, and very long-suffering servant, Albert.
The production also benefits from an extremely detailed and atmospheric set design.
But unfortunately the cast appear to struggle at times with the play's brief, rapid-fire scenes and frequent set changes, which often don't give the actors long enough to fully engage with the audience.
Mort is sure to please Discworld fans, but may prove a challenge too far for those less familiar with Pratchett's bizarre genius.
Mort runs until Saturday, with performances at 7.30pm, plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinee. For tickets call 01782 209784.