Review: Maskerade

An opera house, a masked opera ghost, two witches, an aphrodisiacal cookbook and a series of unexplained murders. The Company comes to Sheffield Drama Studio to perform Terry Pratchett’s slaps
tick parody of The Phantom of the Opera.

The play follows the story of two witches, the tight-lipped and no-nonsense Granny Weatherwax (Sara James) and the cheeky and manipulative Nanny Ogg (Ken Rowe).

The comic duo follow their prospective third witch, Agnes Nitt (Jenni Thompson), to her new position as leading soprano at the opera house, however, once they arrive they find themselves at the centre of a spectral mystery.

The opera house is home to a ghost, who is carrying out a series of sporadic and unexplained murders.

Meanwhile, the monetary funds of the Opera house are suspiciously and unexplainably depleting.

Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg find themselves hot on the case of this mystery, in an effort to unmask the ghost and find out the true identity and intentions of the murderer.

Ending with a comical duel and death scene, Maskerade is a play which pokes fun at opera by mimicking its exaggerated characters, nonsensical plots and untalented prima donnas.

Unfortunately, The Company turned Pratchett’s play from a light-hearted spoof of musical theatre into a garish, amateur pantomime with cringe worthy moments of misplaced comedy.

What was supposed to be the weaving of two subplots in a comic blending of fantasy and reality, became a muddled narrative which proved confusing and entirely disengaging.

Aside from a finely painted chandelier, the staging looked makeshift and unprofessional, with The Company certainly not utilising the open space at the front of the stage in the drama studio.

Scene changes were haphazard and irregular with the lighting bearing no didactic relevance to the play itself whatsoever.

The only person worthy of merit was Ken Rowe, who played Nanny Ogg with confidence and brilliant comic timing in the face of the unnatural and forced ham acting of his peers.

I left the theatre with the contrived and over-used line “the show must go on!” ringing in my ears. However, all I was grateful for was that the show had ended.

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