By April Howard
For an evening of humour, quirkiness, and energy, look no further than Ooook! Productions’ Going Postal at the Assembly Rooms Theatre. The play is based on a Terry Pratchett novel, adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs. It tells the tale of a conman condemned to be hanged. He has the chance to save his life, however, if he agrees to take on the task of restarting the local post office, which is overrun by undelivered letters. In a dizzying world of ridiculous names, men made of clay called Golems, and whacky characters, dark undercurrents steadily flow. The threat of violence from the malevolent chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company whose business is threatened by the reopening of the postal service, and the gloomy fates of the previous postmasters mean that the action always stays exciting and that there is also a sense of looming danger.
The talent of the cast on the whole is breath-taking
Frank Dudley is an impressive lead. He takes on the role of Moist von Lipwig with enthusiasm and an abundance of talent. Isabelle Bull is also a brilliant heroine as the witty Adora Belle Dearheart, the love interest who is so much more than that. The pair have excellent chemistry. I did, however, find the decision for Dearheart to hold a makeshift cigarette holder a little awkward and stifling.
The play opens and ends with an orchestra and they follow the action, heightening the sense of tension and excitement throughout the play. I thought this was an excellent addition. I was impressed to find that the musical score, so perfectly suited to the feeling and tone of the play, was composed by Musical Directors Kat Pittalis and Samuel Abel. The orchestra are a delightful element of this production and quite indispensable to its success.
Rory Gee and Richard Sharpe make a striking duo. Their ability to fully embody their characters’ disparate ages with their voice, stature and movement is endlessly impressive. They both have excellent stage presence and talent, and they delight the audience with their humour and chemistry, but also with their humanity and their flair.
The talent of the cast on the whole is breath-taking. One who shines out as a beacon of talent is Jay Figuerdo as the tyrannical Lord Vetinari. Figuerdo combines likeability, charisma and a flawless command of the stage to present us with the benevolent dictator. Vetinari oozes with uncanny charm and an enchanting intensity.
Vivid, colourful and bizarre
Every element of the play complements the overall tone. The set is vivid, colourful and bizarre, just like the play itself. Technical director James Goodall and assistant Rebecca Ayre use lighting and sound commendably, to heighten the tension or vividly create a moment. The satire and social commentary of the text is not lost on director Peter Firbank and assistant director Nieve Gauvain. Pratchett has much to say about how ridiculous and farcical our world is, painting the competitive nature of capitalism and the evil figures that emerge from it with a satirical brush, both laughing at and solemnly criticising this system.
I cannot recommend to you enough that you go and see this play. The combination of ability, good directorial decisions, wacky costuming and farcical comedy makes for a night of laughs and warmth. The production is professional, seamless and incredible. The talent of Pratchett is in good hands here, handled with expertise and enthusiasm and therefore nurtured to a full and sparkling fruition. The play will leave you full of wonder, good humour and with a sharpened lens through which to look at our world in all its absurdity and beauty.
Image: Anna Bodrenkova