‘Going Postal’ is ridiculous, funny, and poignant.
Longtime collaborator Stephen Brigg’s adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novel is an entertaining choice by Ooook! Productions for their annual Pratchett Special. It is, essentially, a redemption story. Mostly. Our protagonist, conman and fraudster Moist von Lipwig is given a second chance at life by the benevolent (ish) ruler of the city of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, as head of the city’s rundown post office. This, however, is not as easy as it may sound. There are letters everywhere, fierce competition from the rival Grand Trunk Company, and all the complexities and intricacies of running an organisation.
Frank Dudley as Moist von Lipwig humorously and engagingly captures the journey from scoundrel to becoming a better person, and is well balanced by Isabelle Bull’s portrayal of love interest and golem manager Adora Belle Dearheart. Rory Gee as Mr Groat entertainingly exudes old age adherences and ambitions, contrasting with Richard Sharpe as young Stanley Howler, whose high-pitched voice and depiction of his geekiness make them a wonderfully fun duo. Matthew Redmond as Mr Pump also deserves much praise for his golem-ness, with his golem-like gait to zombified face makeup and the amusing earnestness with which he delivers his lines. The final moments when Jay Figuerdo as Lord Vetinari clarifies his power and insight are particularly delightful, with a witty John Reeve as his faithful assistant Drumknott.
The extravagant costume nicely matches the spirit of the characters and absurdity of the setting, from Lord Vetinari’s dark coat to Moist’s golden attire, complemented by Goodall and Ayre’s innovative lighting choices. The music is wonderful, with an original music score by musical directors Samuel Abel and Kat Pittalis played by a live orchestra. It is undeniably engaging- and just as the situation requires, playful, ominous, lively and fun. It adds something uniquely enjoyable to the production, enhancing the audience’s experience. There were, indeed, one or two technical mishaps, but these were easily smoothed over, which further speaks to the skill of the production
Of the many engaging scenes, I have a particular liking for the post office ones, which nicely capture the absurdities of bureaucracy. I must confess that I think having some background knowledge of Discworld and the novel would aid audience understanding. It is, nonetheless, a good adaptation, and Peter Firbank has done a commendable job as director. One could truly feel the audience’s enjoyment, with laughs, chuckles, and loud applause at the end. I would say it’s two hours well spent, and the Assembly Rooms Theatre itself somehow suits the play with the theatre’s grand exterior.
The production is self-aware and does not hide its ridiculousness. Do not go in expecting drearily serious things. It’s Discworld. Moist employs golems hundreds of years old, is nearly overwhelmed by the voices of letters, and gets a golden suit. Sit back, and enjoy the ride. It will make it easier to enjoy this fun and entertaining play, and through its ridiculousness, see the ridiculous side of our own world.
‘Going Postal’ is being performed again tonight at 7:30pm and tomorrow at 2:30pm and 7:30pm at the Assembily Rooms Theatre.
By Karl Omae
Image design by Anna Bodrenkova.