**NO SPOILERS* Terry Prachett’s Guards! Guards! directed by John Carone is now open at the Majestic Theatre! Even if you’re aren’t familiar with Terry Prachett’s books, this play stands on its own and will be entertaining for most audiences. Especially, if you like fantasy stories with dragons and wizards.
The main plot is centered around a secret brotherhood of wizards who want to overthrow the Patrician by using a secret book to summon a dragon. Their plan is get some guy to slay the dragon and use him as a “puppet” leader so they can run the city. Meanwhile, there is a Captain Vimes, head of the Night Watch, who is disillusioned about many things and now has to deal with newcomer Carrot, who is gung-ho about enforcing the law. Funny things happen, funny things are said, and clever methods are used to support the story.
The set was super fun, imaginative, and clever. The painting of the set looked good from my seat (I sit in the way back.) I liked the small cityscape set behind the larger pieces. The projection worked well; especially in regards to referencing the dragon. All the gimmicks seem to work – yes, there are gimmicks. It’s a fantasy comedy… The cast is large and wears many hats. Literally, there are multiple costumes changes, masks, and various characters presented. Which, by the way, Kaitlyn Davis, the costume designer did a great job pulling together! John Carone mentioned in his intro this is her first show costuming, so bravo to her! The cast seemed to handle it; although, not always cleanly. By which I mean, those who played multiple characters, did not always have a clean distinction between roles. It’s a fun, campy story so I imagine once the audience started to engage, the energy swept them up and some things got a blurry. For me, the wizard scenes felt a bit long and the special effect with one of the wizards felt unnecessary and made his dialogue a bit harder to follow. Notably, the Librarian, played by Rus Roberts is super fun to watch. He moves fluidly, his costume and make up is well executed, and he manages to steal every scene he’s in. Some regulars of the Majestic stage, Laurie Mason, Nancy Homan, Chad Howard, and Johanna Spencer are solid in their characters. Rachel Kohler is adorable. Karen Wohlwend continues to push for greater challenges and it’s clear she’s having fun; however, her multiple characters need greater care of separation. Relative new comers, Daniel Breysse and Anthony McMahon, do well in this fantasy world but could use a bit more distinction between character personalities in order to play off each other more dynamically. The entire cast is clearly having fun and that’s the best part of being in theatre. It’s the only place you can sword fight, slay dragons, and still throw in a moral to the story for people to take home and think about. All while wearing fun costumes and running about! The props were classic! The cart with the goodies, the books, the dragons…you’ll see. Good times…
Overall, I have mixed feelings about this play. I loved most of the staging– a couple of monlogues felt a bit lost with the wandering around– and I loved the fantasy story about wizards and dragons. It was more campy than I would have liked for a comedy of this nature. I mean, I laughed a lot sure; but I’m a believer of playing comedy straight and letting the material do its job. The gimmicks were clever. Brilliant, actually. I liked most of the performances; aside from little tid-bits; but I told John Carone I wouldn’t nit-pick and here I am, nit-picking…The audience felt strongly supportive of the show which is more important. There was a great turnout, they all laughed and clapped, and congratulated the cast after the show. Now all they need to do is tell their friends to see it. Which I think says a lot about Terry Prachett and John Carone. Even if you don’t know his work or this genre, you’ll still have fun watching it.
Guards! Guards! is playing through February 9th. Click HERE for tickets and showtimes. Support your local community theatre!!!