PICTURES: The Mechanicals join in the “dance spectacular. Photo by Dylan Evans
At the after Party: Christen O’Leary with old friend theatre director David Bell.
Naomi Price, who has her own show coming up in July, with Shake@stir's Nick Skubij
A welcome visitor James Stewart who is now on out TV screens in the ABCs Hiding series, with Eric Scott. Photos by Deanne Scott
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Benjamin Schostakowski
La Boite Theatre Company
This interpretation would have Shakespeare turning in his grave – turning in laughter that is! Talented young director Benjamin Schostakowski took the fantasy and reworked it so he could use a cast of six, while turning Puck into a disembodied voice. The show was more vaudeville than classic and exhilaratingly insane.
It might have had the purists shaking their heads but the tale was so accessible that there we pre-teen kids chortling away at the action and the house was in a constant uproar of laughter as the three competing storylines played themselves out through slapstick, pratfalls, double takes, mugging and some amazing comic timing that made Shakespeare’s words sound completely new.
I laughed myself silly.
The first act ran for 95 minutes, but it sped by as one comic moment succeeded another, so the 45 minute second act as the world righted itself again seemed like a sort sketch.
The setting was not a forest glade either; it was a 1970s suburban home that Dann Barber created and furnished in period style and had it built solidly on a thrust stage with a much-used staircase and four doors that were opened and closed with farcical regularity. Costumes too were modern - or should I say op-shop fashion - and the wigs were well used and obviously comic tatty. But they did help differentiate between characters. Jason Glenwright conceived a complex and atmospheric lighting plot
So, we had Titania and Oberon/Hippolyta/Theseus and their wedding plans, the four lovers – Helena, Lysander, Hermia and Demetrius. Then the actors doubled up as the Rude Mechanicals. It was a tough job, but the cast executed Schostakowski’s crazy ideas with total dedication and as the Bard also said” all well that ends well”, and end well it did to thunderous applause.
Helena was played beautifully by Emily Burton. She was a completely modern character with her finger pointing and arm waving as she relentlessly pursued Demetrius. Meanwhile Hermia is in love with Lysander and freaks out when her father demands she marry Demetrius.
Demetrius was played by African Australian Pacharo Mzembe with hujs own comedy style and was hilarious as Flute, as he dressed in a sort of tribal costume and then whites up his face to play the girl. It was clever casting and a top performance.
Kathryn Marquet romped happily around in all manner of costumes as Hermia and Starveling, winning all her laughs and a bearded Kieran Law was Lysanda. Now there was another great performance particularly when he switched characters to play Bottom. What a great “bad” actor and marvellous clown he turned out to be. One of the hit scenes of the night was the bath scene with Titania. You have to see it to believe it.
The adults were played with aplomb by the thoroughly experienced Brian Lipson, who boomed his way through the lines – and of course Titania/Hippolyta was played by Christen O’Leary who morphed her way perfectly through her roles from the desperate housewife chastising her daughter to a randy fairy and a marvellous gum-chewing Mechanical.
I’ve rarely seen the travelling players funnier – and when they broke into a crazy dance choreographed by Nerida Waters to the tune of the love ballad You Don’t Have to Say You Love me, it brought the house down and bellows of laughter were heard from every corner of the theatre.
It is a Dream worth remembering and it continues until March 7. Bookings: 07 3007 8600