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Review - A Midsummer Night’s Dream: magical and enchanting

Oberon’s superb fairy subjects.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Choreographed by Liam Scarlett

Music by Felix Mendelssohn

Queensland Ballet and Royal New Zealand Ballet co-production

Playhouse Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank


Season ends April 16.

Designer Tracy Grant Lord and lighting designer Kendall Smith turned Shakespeare’s setting of “a wood near Athens” into an ethereal place of twinkling lights and dark spaces to create the perfect home for mystical fairies and enchanted happenings.

I don’t think I have ever been so instantly transported into a theatrical world.

The costumes too were magical, with shimmering royal robes, fluttery fairies, rollicking rural costumes for the rustics and oddly modern suits and frock for the other humans.

It was an absolute visual feast.

Then there was Mendelssohn’s lush score played by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Nigel Gaynor and of course the talented dancers and Shakespeare’s romantic tale of love and jealousy.

It was two hours of pure joy that slid by much too quickly.

The plot skipped straight to Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the fairies, as they fought over custodianship of the changeling boy and the mixed up romances of Lysander (Rian Thompson) and Hermia (Laura Hldalgo) and Helena (Eleanor Freeman) and Demetrious (Alexander Idaszak). Helena loves Demetrius, who loves Hermia who loves Lysander, who loves Hermia.

Titania takes the boy away and Oberon plans his revenge. He orders the mischievous Puck to find a magic flower that, when sprinkled over the eyes of sleeping person, causes them to fall in love with the next thing they see.

It is aimed for Titania, who of course awakes to see the rustic Bottom who has been turned into a donkey. At the same time Oberon sees to fix the unrequited love of Helena by giving Demetrius a dose of the magic flower. Puck however is not sure who is who so he doses both of them to the usual comic effects.

Liam Scarlett has brought out all the hilarious comedy scenes to great effect and managed to keep a true Shakespearean feel to the production.

Puck was danced superbly by Zuquan Kou. He truly captured the impish free spirit of Oberon’s young apprentice. He has a great sense of comedy and danced some intricate and fast choreography with ease.

The four mixed up lovers were all brilliant – and I loved Helena’s glasses: a lovely comic touch and Elinor Freeman was outstanding with her comedy dance. Again the choreography was not always simple, but it created the characters as they wove in and out of the often frantic action on stage with invisible fairies mixing with the humans.

Jack Lister was a very cheeky Bottom who made the most of his short liaison with Titania.

The fairies were pure magic and the rustics hilarious in their antics.

Then we came to the principals: Lina Kim as Titania and Joel Woellner as Oberon. Wow what a pair – and neither is a soloist or principal dancer.

I often find it rewarding to see a performance where the leads are danced by corps dancers and in this case it was a joy to see such talent on display.

Woellner gave a performance of great strength and power and created a character of command and humour, and Lina Kim was superb as she captured Titania’s many moods. She has developed into an elegant dancer with clean lines and strong point work.

The final pas de deux was breathtaking at times as their love was translated into dance. It was romantic and entirely beautiful to see.

It just shows the strength of the Queensland Ballet has at the moment.

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