Saturday, February 22, 2020

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare Directed by Tim Sekuless.  Shakespeare by the Lakes 111. Lakespeare and Co. To Feb 23 (free at various locations. )

Helen Way as Puck

Caught this energetic and sumptuously costumed outdoor show down in Tuggeranong Park on opening night.

It’s a very lean text of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, however, and even the English and Drama teachers were scrambling to identify cuts, interpolations and reassignment of lines. Whole characters went missing and if you didn’t know the plot you might have been floundering.

No Theseus and Hippolyta, and Hermia’s oppressive father Egeus vanishes also, although all three seem to leave a few of their lines behind.

No matter. There is assurance and energy  in this fast moving version and an irony or two in the doubling of the lovers with some of the Mechanicals.  

Thomas Cullen’s scornful Demetrius is balanced by the mild mannered Snug, afraid of frightening the ladies with his portrayal of Lion.   Anneka van der Velde’s lanky aggrieved Helena is well counterpointed by her angular and vain Snout –as-Wall.  Liam Jones doubles effectively as Hermia’s lover Lysander and as poor Flute who has to play Thisbe despite having a beard on the way.  Marni Mount, an energetic Hermia, deftly becomes would-be stage director Peter Quince, attempting the organisation of Pyramus and Thisbe in the face of a rather childish Bottom (Oliver Bailey) and his constant attempts to take over.

Heidi Silverman as Oberon and Katerina Smalley as Titania make a powerful couple well supported by Helen Way’s dark and eccentric Puck, one who is always ready to talk to the audience and to include them in the action.

Costumes by Fiona Victoria Hopkins are lush and rich and stand out well amid the distractions of an open air setting.

The fun, tensions and magic of the piece somehow largely survive the axe of text cutting and a number of glowing small faces on opening night showed that it was reaching the next generation.  

Alanna Maclean