Oddball characters abound in Pratchett stage tribute

Ursula Johnson as Granny Weatherwax, Christine Ellis as Mrs Plinge and Julie Holmshaw as Nanny Ogg.
Ursula Johnson as Granny Weatherwax, Christine Ellis as Mrs Plinge and Julie Holmshaw as Nanny Ogg.

CRAIGIE resident Christine Ellis is paying tribute to the late Terry Pratchett this July by appearing in a stage adaptation of Maskerade ⿿ one of his popular Discworld novels.

Pratchett was the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s, selling more than 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages.

Maskerade is described as a “comedy theatre production of operatic proportions” with a story that has similarities to The Phantom of the Opera.

The ARENAarts play is directed by Simon James and features Pratchett’s usual oddball characters.

All is not well in the Ankh-Morpork Opera House as a ghost stalks the dark corridors, leaving strange letters for management staff and luring young innocent sopranos to gaze into a mirror to see their destiny.

But Granny Weatherwax, Discworld’s most famous witch, is in the audience and won’t put up with it, so she joins fellow witch Nanny Ogg to investigate.

Ellis plays Mrs Plinge, the mother of Walter, who is the general dogsbody around the theatre.

“She also works at the opera house doing general duties and serving the patrons with lots of drinks and food,” she said.

“Mrs Plinge is a lovely old soul who cares very much about the way people ridicule

“She tries to keep Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg from wandering around the opera house during the performance to stop them sticking their noses where they are not required.”

Ellis said she was drawn to Maskerade because she loved Pratchett’s “sense of humour and wacky characters”.

“I have also been involved in stage versions of Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters, Lords and Ladies and Monstrous Regiment, both as an actress and helping with costumes.”

James said while Maskerade was for followers of the Discworld novels, it would also appeal to lovers of comedy and people intrigued by opera.

“I like to describe Terry Pratchett novels and stage adaptations as The Lord of the Rings meets Monty Python,” he said.

“There’s a depth of sci-fi and fantasy writing infused with a really wicked sense of humour.”

James said the show was already in pre-production when Pratchett died in March.