Nation at the National Theatre

Mark Ravenhill’s adaptation of Terry Pratchet’s children’s fantasy fiction novel

Nation looks brilliant, sounds terrific and is based on a well received children’s novel by Terry Pratchet, one of the best loved fantasy fiction novelists of our time. The acting is ok, the singing and dancing works well and the production quality is stunning. However, the Mark Ravenhill’s adaptation manages to miss the mark.

With so much in it’s favour, it was Mark Ravenhill’s writing that let the production down slightly. That’s not to say that Nation was lacking in entertainment value, it’s just that it failed to bring to life the immersive storyline of Pratchet’s novel.

Following the lives of Mau and the rest of his tribal islanders and Miss Daphne Fanshawe along with the other survivors of her 1860 shipwrecked voyage across the atlantic ocean, Nation is a story of life & death, heritage & class differences, loss & retribution and the influences of spirituality on society. To a large extent, Ravenhill’s adaptation touches all of these themes, but it lacks the subtly to convey them well.

One of the best aspects of the production is the set design. A massive revolving landscape, lushly decorated, makes up the main area of the stage allowing acts to move from one to the other seamlessly. This is added to during underwater scenes by a massive clear window to the left of the stage behind which the actors float around on wire harness.

While nation is never going to win any awards for writing, it is no doubt a beautifully produced adaptation that is delivered with a lot of heart by the cast. Nation is running until the end of March 2010, so catch it while you still can.

Nation at the National Theatre review: 3.1/5

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