Shakespeare by the Lakes. Directed by Duncan Driver and Lexi Sekuless. Tuggeranong Town Park on February 14 and 15, Glebe Park in Civic on February 16, QEII Park in Queanbeyan on February 17. 6.30pm.
Out door theatre can be a fraught business. In 1961 as a teenage Gertrude on the steps of the War Memorial in Sydney I found myself lunging for a mike on a stand every time I had a line. Things weren’t much better in 1980 at Leeds University doing Eurydice in an outdoor Antigone, although I think the courtyard acoustics meant we could do without mikes. (And the skinheads who haunted the dress rehearsal…)
From what I saw down at Tuggeranong technology has come a long way and except for the occasional pop and crackle the unobtrusive head mikes so long used by musical theatre supported the performance in a positive way in an flat outdoor venue that shows how much has been forgotten about ancient Greek theatre acoustics. (Go to Epidaurus and sit up the back while the guide talks quietly down on the performance area…)
Shakespeare by the Lakes largely got the measure of the problems, and came up with a genially intelligent version of Much Ado About Nothing. A largish audience sat on the grass or on chairs at the back and was happy to have their space invaded by the odd cast member. especially since such invasions were gentle and unforced and very much part of the play.
Directors Lexi Sekuless and Duncan Driver headed the cast as Beatrice and Benedict making the most of the duo’s avoidance of what everyone else could see about their relationship. The Watch needed more of a sense of being a group and Helen McFarlane’s Dogberry could have used some toning down so that the full humour of the malapropisms came through. But she made a most enjoyably villainous Don John.
Hero can be played as a bit of a Muriel and Jo Richards went down this path with some energy. It’s always a wonder why she finally marries a man like Claudio Izaac Beach) who is so ready to jump to the wrong conclusion. Beach conveyed an alarming youthful immaturity. But the play does not linger on their relationship.
Support from the rest of the cast was relaxed and focussed, with the play’s songs and some music for ambience gently done by musician Sunny Amoreena and her band and the whole thing finished up quite rightly with a jig. And if the Thursday night Tuggeranong crowd is anything to go by there’s a real appetite for more such events.