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The Truth - Roleystone Theatre

Reviewed by Kate O'Sullivan

 

"The Truth has got its boots on" with Roleystone Theatre's current staging of The Truth, based on the 25th novel in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. The choice of this play in 2023 is poignant, with a lot of the action mirroring things we have seen in some areas of society today.


Director Bradley Towton has again rallied a large cast of Pratchett-loving performers to bring the complex world of investigative newspaper journalism. Highlight performances were Lilly Litchfield in the core characters of both Lord Vetinari and Charlie, with excellent physical choices and on-a-dime switching between the characters, as well as Callum Presbury as Gaspode and Foul Old Ron, with excellent puppetry and physicality. It would also be remiss not to point out the Penn-and-Teller-meets-the-Blues-Brothers portrayal of Mr Pin and Mr Tulip by Aaron O'Neill and Peter 'Pear' Carr, giving us well-honed characters which fast became an audience favourite. Caitlyn Boyle had a lot of fun with the role of Otto Chriek, giving an excellently reactive performance when caught by the light.

It is always difficult when a director takes on a role on the stage, especially when it comes to tech week and honing some of the details. A few of the actors, especially those playing with accents or making a choice to speak rapidly, were harder to understand at times, which muddied the plot a little. Additionally, there were moments where there was a little bit too much "chewing the scenery" from a couple of performers, which meant they ended up somewhat upstaging the action going on in front of them.


As someone who is not a huge Pratchett fan, having read some of the books but not others, there were elements of this script that were hard to follow. According to the Pratchett fan I attended with, there are iconic fan favourite characters that are in there but it does leave a non-Pratchett person a little at a loss at times. Unless you know who these characters are, and what their preexisting relationships may be, it can be hard to identify where we are in the story, especially with some actors playing multiple characters. For the most part, this was a solid interpretation of the story that got clearer as the show went along.

Technically, this show uses the width of the Don Russell stage well. The scale of the printing press, which was on the stage the whole time, was solid, although it did get distracting in some scenes where the lighting plot couldn't hide it. There was also a very long set change in the second act that involves the press (no spoilers) that hopefully will tighten up over the run. The downstage corner set of Lord Vetinari's office was a good one but felt underused and unclear when we were seeing it as other offices and spaces. This may be down to the set dressing, which very clearly identified the patrician's office but struggled to be used in other ways because of the lack of changes made to the space. The lighting was effective, especially in the context of Otto's camera and segmenting the stage into zones. It would have been nice to have some form of soundscape to add to the atmosphere and help us identify where we were in time and space. There was some good use of sound in the beginning and the voiceovers, but it didn't carry through the entire show.


From a costuming perspective, the costumes did a good job of creating the world. It would have been nice to see our Canting Crew of beggars, especially Foul Old Ron, being a bit more filthy and grimy, rather than just mismatched. Some specific identifying details to distinguish characters were great (shoutout to the Duck Man's hats) but others were missing, like Vimes' feather and Nobby's distinctive nose. As always, a commendation for the Detritus troll puppet (skillfully wielded by Terrence Alexander) that is a stalwart of the Roleystone Pratchett productions.


This show is one for the Pratchett lovers amongst you. Head down to Ankh-Morpork at Don Russell Performing Arts Centre to get your dose of Discworld.


Detritus Puppet.

Reviewer Note: Kate has previously performed with Roleystone Theatre, most recently in 2022. She has also recently performed with a few members of this cast at Don Russell Performing Arts Centre. Tickets for this review were provided by the theatre company.

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