Nathan and I were honoured to be invited along to the opening night of Townsville Little Theatre’s Jingo on Wednesday evening.
Townsville Little Theatre continues to hold a flame for Terry Pratchett – a master of satire who, I am told, tends to be a ‘love him’ or ‘loathe him’ kinda guy (although I’m no sure which camp I personally sit in just yet).
Before seeing Jingo on Wednesday, my only touch-point with Pratchett’s work was an odd children’s show that aired on the ABC in the late 90s, based on his Discworld series. It must have been programmed between children’s television gold such as Hey Arnold and Alex Mack, because I distinctly recall my brother and I sitting through it rather begrudgingly for fear of losing control of the TV set to our Dad if we were to move.
Wednesday night’s production went a long way to demystifying some of these hazy memories.
The show was packed with clever allusions to historical events and figures, such as the assassination of JFK and the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, that would most certainly have gone clean over my 11-year-old head.
In Jingo, two nations within the Discworld prepare to go to war after a long-lost island rises out of the sea that separates them. The nations not-so-subtly mirror the tension between our own reality’s East and West and the protagonist, Commander Sam Vimes, and his rag-tag company serve to remind us of the conspiracy theories, misinformation and dangers of suspicion that can arise in uncertain political environments. It’s a fairly simple plot, but with some complex character arcs and backstories (a result of Jingo being the 21st book in the Discworld series), that can be isolating for audiences new to Pratchett’s world.
That said, I laughed from start to finish and thoroughly enjoyed the entire performance.
Andy Carter masterfully carried the action as Commander Vimes. He delivered a stoic, reliable, no-frills-thank-you-very-much policeman with a passion for justice and it was easy to see why his watchmen would follow him loyally into battle.
While the cast boasted some well-seasoned performers including Bob Hinds, Alan Cooke and Pamela Garrick as well as Marc Weston and Fleur Hislop, who both reprised Pratchett characters they’ve inhabited before – it was the newcomers and up-and-comers who really shone for me.
Harlee Timms was captivating as 71-Hour Ahmed, a mysterious man with a sharp sword and a sharp tongue. He commanded the stage from his first appearance and by curtains-down had morphed into suave, well-layered character deserving of all the applause he got. Dylan Megaw was equally enthralling as Leonard of Quirm. Megaw packed a lot of energy and passion into the unknowingly-evil genius and was well-deserved audience favourite; as was Stephen Newitt who had stepped out of the wings from his usual technical roles and into the spotlight as the entirely lovable Corporal Nobbs.
My congratulations to the cast and crew behind Jingo. This is a smart piece of theatre delivered with exceptional wit, and those who see it are sure to enjoy it.
Townsville Little Theatre will perform Jingo at PIMPAC at 7.30pm on Friday, 10 March and 2pm and 7.30pm on Saturday, 11 March. Tickets are available on the door.
HUXLEY Press were invited guests of Townsville Little Theatre.