Andrew Beattie reviews Terry Pratchett’s Nation, which was shown at Fact earlier this month.
I am well aware of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Work. At any given moment my Dad is likely to recite lines of conversation from some of Discworld’s finest and not so fine characters chuckling to himself and leaving me with a brief insight into the undoubted kooky genius of Sir Terry.
I have often contemplated reaching into the shelf in my Dad’s office and plucking out one of Sir Terry’s novels from behind the various Discworld collectables gathered over the years but I have always stopped short, he’d immediately notice it missing for a start.
I can be forgiven then for expecting some first rate wizardry yesterday from the NT Live production of Nation screened at FACT, live theatre broadcast to a handful of Cinemas nationwide. I was of course, so very wrong.
Nation, set in a parallel universe in 1860, is the story of the bringing together of two teenagers, Mau and Daphne, after a Tsunami destroys Mau’s island and Daphne’s boat, stranding them together, along with Daphne’s talking parrot, on a small South-Pacific Island. The play follows the characters as they seek to rebuild the Nation along with other stranded refugees that have landed from neighbouring islands seeking help and all their trials and tribulations along the way.
Within minutes of his arrival on stage, the talking Parrott had me in stitches with its shouts of “Arse” and “boobs” and before I had time to fully prepare myself we had romped into Song and Dance routines that had me tapping my feet and dreaming of long white beaches and nights spent under a palm tree looking at the stars. I was hugely entertained and hooked on the story unfolding seamlessly before me.
The cast was excellent throughout and the initial misunderstandings of Mao and Daphne, played by Gary Carr and Emily Taaffe, were both touching and hilarious. The supporting cast can also be proud of a good day’s work particularly the baddie Mr Cox, played by Paul Chahidi, who turned out be a right bastard and of course the excellent aforementioned talking parrott Milton, played by Jason Thorpe.
The highlights of the performance for me were the extraordinarily vivid underwater scenes, excellent lighting and vivid backdrops creating a mystical underwater world, and the puppets, the repulsive feasting grandfather birds and a large two man beer drinking pig.
As a result of a most enjoyable afternoon spent watching what turned out to be a fantastic NT Live Production and after a fleeting glimpse into the mind of Sir Terry I’ll be going now to raid the fabled bookshelves so that I can return, for a few hours at least, to the Nation.
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