Even before the start you got the impression that the Parabox Magic Production was facing an open goal. Following on from last year's production of Going Postal, Mort deals with the events that unfold when Death gets an apprentice (called Mort), and what happens when he (the apprentice) inadvertently ruptures history. Thanks to some clever costume and vocal effects Death is genuinely quite fearsome which adds to the irony when, in a parallel plot, he starts looking for alternative career path.
It's perhaps unsurprising, given the nature of the macabre subject matter, that the Stephen Briggs adaptation comes across a bit like a serious play trying to be a comedy. Indeed what can seem fantastical on the page takes on a serious undertone when played by 'real' people. Thankfully there are some comical interludes starring 'cameos' from some of Pratchett's other novels (Rincewind and Abbott Lobsang being the stand-outs).
The programme biographies mention that the majority of the cast are currently grappling with the real-life spectres of degrees or masters in tricky scientific subjects and, though there was no doubting their commitment, they did seem to be a little lacking in the energy which might have transformed the play into a genuine laugh-out loud comedy. Not to say I didn't enjoy it... being partial to Pratchett's irreverent take on big ideas such as death, reincarnation and destiny I relished this rare opportunity to see his creations in the 'flesh'. My only reservation is that Mort is best suited to the Pratchett-initiated, the ample army of which will no doubt fill the seats for the rest of the run.