Danish danger

The Hamlet Apocalypse (The Danger Ensemble)

Judith Wright Centre, Performance Space

August 9 – 19

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“Hamlet” represents one of the stage’s greatest challenges. The complex work’s sense of reality is shaped by powerful, poetic words and language with some of the most popular lines ever written, and there is the challenge of its duration as the longest of Shakespeare’s plays. The Danger Ensemble’s contemporary performance about an ensemble of actors (Chris Beckey, Caroline Dunphy, Nicole Harvey, Thomas Hutchins, Polly Sara, Peta Ward and Mitch Wood) staging the play on the eve of the apocalypse may be much shorter (though still with room for Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and a horse) than its source material, but is as complex as ever as the play unravels and more of the actors’ real-life personal revelations and fears begin to emerge; they have a version of “Hamlet” that they have rehearsed, but as a countdown gets closer to zero the show has to be abridged and personal issues sorted.

Presenting any derivative of “Hamlet” is always going to be a trial of strength. And “The Hamlet Apocalypse” certainly realises its intention of taking the play of ideas to a new and exciting place. Although it is probably best appreciated by those familiar enough with the original text to be able to follow the now-fragmented narrative, this can also work to its disadvantage as the loss of much of the play’s musical language and dramatic poetry is lamented.

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This is a “Hamlet” for the now generation, in which the line between fiction and reality blurs. It’s not an easy transition, however, the experimental work keeps a sense of tragedy in its performers’ breaks of the fourth wall. There is still touch on themes of the power of death and the value of life, but humour too, added to, rather than derived from within the text. Usually it works, such as in a hilarious group ‘imaginary eating’ scene. At other times, however, it is at the expense of key moments and emotional expression, such as when Hamlet’s Act Two share of his descent into worthless melancholy is overshadowed, visually and verbally by a background Claudius and Gertrude spitting wine over each other.

A show of such layering, theatricality and physicality, of course, needs a skilled cast and in this regard there are no weak links. Thomas Hutchins makes for a commanding new King Claudius, second husband to Hamlet’s mother Gertrude (Caroline Dunphy) in contrast to his constant line-reminder interjections to others as ‘himself’. As the titular Hamlet, Mitch Wood gives a fine performance that provides feel more of frustration than introspection. And Chris Beckey gives a nuanced performance that makes for a memorable visual presence, often absorbed as one with the aesthetic.

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The show’s aesthetics are absorbing thanks to the sophisticated shading of Ben Hughes’ lighting design and Oscar Clark’s detailed, yet versatile costumes. Together, they make early scenes particularly stylistic in the slow-motion sensibility that acts in contrast to the big, hot mess of its conclusion (#inagoodway). Constantly we are reminded that we are watching a play. Indeed, never can the audience relax into the work, especially in the cresendoing chaos of concluding scenes as our attention is torn from ‘character’ to ‘character’ in simultaneous competition for our focus. And while the blinding visual flash and screeching soundscape countdown from ten to one that punctuates proceedings continues as novelty throughout, eliciting disruptive audience responses, this is probably the point.

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“The Hamlet Apocalypse” may be ‘Hamlet but not as you know it’, but it represents all that is interesting about experimental theatre and the essence of Director Steven Mitchell Wright’s characteristic vision, last seen the company’s wicked “Macbeth”.  Its rich all-encompassing aesthetic makes for rewarding theatrical experience. And in celebration of The Danger Ensemble’s ten year anniversary, it is an excellent choice of show for a return season.

Photos c/o – Morgan Roberts Photography

Shrew anew

The Taming of the Shrew (New Farm Nash Theatre)

The Brunswick Room, Merthyr Road Uniting Church

May 13 – June 3

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Nash Theatre’s production of “The Taming of the Shrew” is far from the controversial 16th century comedy of its source material. In this imagining, it is set in the Black Widows biker bar, still in Padua Italy (despite all the Bundaberg Rum bottles). Its initial scene gives nod to its setting though, through a musical introduction of the ‘Sicilian Heart’ sort, before Cutting Crew’s ‘I Just Died in Your Arms’ establishes a great story arch before taking audiences forward 20 years to the tale of bar-owner Baptista (Jennifer Morgan) and her very-different daughters, perfect Bianca (Kristina Nisova) and the older, flawed Katherina (Hannah Martin). The surplus of suitors for Bianca makes Baptista impose the condition that Katherina must be married before Bianca can be. And so begins a series of secret deals, assumed identities and unconventional courtship by the brash Petruchio as, following decision to marry based on his self-proclaimed desire for fortune, he attempts to tame the headstrong Katherine (the shrew of the title) into transformation through torment.

The cast is a large one, with 14 members, many assuming multiple roles. As the brash Petruchio of Verona, Isaac Barnes is an absolute standout; Shakespearean dialogue sits comfortably in his mouth and his spot-on interpretation engenders the show with bawdy humour and alike, befitting one of the most comprehensive of Shakespearean comedies. However the quality of his performance also serves to showcase the contrast with those whose delivery of laden lines is comparatively overworked and, as such, less engaging.

Although initially, Hannah Martin’s cursed Katherina is more moody teenager than feisty feminist, as in the Zeffirelli’s seminal 1967 film adaptation, the best scenes are those of Petruchio in interaction with the tempestuous Katherina after their first introduction. Kristina Nisova is solid as the unassuming Bianca, conveying a still-spirited character through flawless delivery of the Shakespearean dialogue and bringing a vitality to scenes with her courtly, romantic lover Lucentio (Matthew Steenson). And Chris Robins more than holds his own as Trainio, Lucentio’s loyal servant and mentor.

Regardless of its politics, this energetic production is highly entertaining and vitally inventive. As complement to the excellent design choices, music features to particular effect, with a soundtrack of rock chick icons like Suzi Quatro, Pat Benatar, and Blondie contributing much to the overall experience. Even the play’s lute player is transformed into a punk rocker of Ozzy Osbourne type. And gender blind casting works well in making a challenging play that serves as celebration of female subordination through the heroine’s submission to her husband’s tyranny, more palatable to modern audience tastes. Female characters are more active participants than passive victims and the choice to make the story just as much Baptista’s is ingenious once, fully appreciated after the twist in the tail of the final act.

As deliberate offset to the problematic gender politics, boisterous comedy abounds thoroughly, crescendoing in Petruchio and Katherina’s shambolic wedding (and not just because of its drunken horse as best man) shown on screen, making the production an equal treat for both those familiar to the ado of the story and those uninitiated to recognition of its Shakespearean motifs of mistaken identity and alike.

It is a long show that could perhaps have benefited from some abridgement, yet, still, Director Jason Nash should be commended for his insight into and engagement with the work and choice not to rely solely on physical comedy to realise the play’s humour. Rather than presenting patriarchy at its worst, this “The Taming of the Shrew” serves not only as a tribute to Shakespeare’s storytelling skills but also a homage to the wit of his words and proof that given the right context, his themes can continue to provide a relevant take on the world around us and the relationships within it.

Something very wicked this way comes

Macbeth (The Danger Ensemble)

Queensland Academy for Creative Industries

February 9 – 25

When The Danger Ensemble is involved with a presentation of Shakespeare’s Scottish play, you know it is not going to be “Macbeth” as you know it. And given its feature of a sexy Mrs M, “Weekend at Bernie’s” type moment and even a Farnham number in support of its focus on ambition and ‘be your best self’ tagline, their current production certainly proves this to be true.

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This is “Macbeth” at its most hyper-real, featuring many intriguing changes to the original text, including emphasis on the larger-than-life passion between the power-addicted, murderous main couple (Chris Beckey and Elle Mickel) through not just their passionate reunion kiss but their laden physical interactions during conversation.

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Gender-blind casting sees a blithe Princess Malcolm (Cienda McNamara) as heir to the throne of King Duncan, in mercurial juxtaposition to the usually solely dark and dangerous dramatisation of the rise and fall of Macbeth’s ambition for power and consequential slaying of all who are an obstacle in his path to kingship. Yet, seasoned Shakespearean performer Sally McKenzie is sincere and powerful in performance as Macbeth’s foil, the pivotal avenging Thane of Fife, Macduff.

Similarly, in her first major production role, Mickel is strong in her approach to characterisation of the aspirationally-manipulative Lady Macbeth, bringing a fresh complexity to a role usually considered to be of an older woman by presenting her less of a crazed harpy and more of a woman grieving the recent loss on a baby. With Beckey as a solid and compelling titular protagonist, the couple’s central relationship becomes a gripping one that really works well on stage.

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This, however, is a show that is all about its aesthetic, precise in its every detail, down to the glowing green of a cigarette ember. Even the violent visuals are gorgeous and although there is no hand-to-hand combat in Act Five’s culminating confrontation between Macduff and Macbeth, there are interesting ways of representing the battle in its place.

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The QACI theatre’s expansive stage allows for some immense scenes and Act Three’s royal banquet presents a particularly memorable visual image of the Da Vinci ‘Last Supper’ sort. Striking too are early scenes that feature Jack Hutchinson as King Duncan, side of stage, dressed all in white, with Elizabethan ruff, strategising over a table of war figurines while drinking milk as white as the blood which many characters will later be shedding.

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Lasers also add to the Ben Hughes’ lush green lighting and silhouetted images, making the weird sisters’ prophecies unlike any version before seen. The soundscape emphasises the elemental forces that grip Macbeth, resounding the repetition of the hags’ chants, and amplifying the addition of the rarely-seen Witch Queen, Hecate.

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Co-designer Arnavaz Lindsay’s costumes are sumptuous in their rich detail and contrast from imposing ‘winter is coming’ coat to plastic wrapped performers. And music enlivens the narrative with a pumping, at-times familiar soundtrack.

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If the quality of a Shakespeare performance depends on the originality of the production and its new revelations regarding themes and characters, then The Danger Ensemble’s take on “Macbeth” is a work of excellence. Director and Designer Steven Mitchell Wright has created a smouldering celebration of the company’s tenth anniversary with a beautiful, powerful and very wicked production that proves the ongoing resonance of the Bard’s themes in relation to ambition and the corruptible nature of absolute power.

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Photos c/o – Morgan Roberts

Abridged ambitions

Macbeth (shake & stir theatre company)

Judith Wright Centre, Performance Space

January 13 – 14

Shakespeare’s most famous political tragedy, aka The Scottish Play dramatises the rise and fall of Macbeth’s ambition for power, with urging from his wife and the consequential slaying of all who are an obstacle in his path to kingship. It is one of the darkest and most complex of the Bard’s journeys with some of his most infamous characters.

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To select it for the 2017 Queensland Shakespeare Production is certainly ambitious, given that the cast (of 2016 Queensland Youth Shakespeare Festival competitors) and creatives had only six days to rehearse, block, choreograph, design and tech the work. But from the moment the show begins with Kuda Mapeza’s melodic caution that ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’, it is clear that the imaginative multi-arts exploration of the text is going to be an engaging one.

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This is an abridged version of the epic tragedy, cut down to just 75 minutes, yet still featuring all the key scenes and lines. Yet scene changes are almost imperceptible in their flow of actors, who enter from all parts of the performance space (even underneath its raised catwalks), never breaking the rhythm of the play.

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The physical theatre of its ensemble work is impressive, sitting well with its snippets of song and dance. Still, the production remains true to the violence of the savage drama and its fight scenes (choreographed by Johnny Balbuziente) are all impressive in creation of the illusion of physical combat. And there is even appearance of Shakespeare’s trademark witty innuendo in the porter scene, with Mitchell De Zwart not overplaying the bawdiness of the drunken gate-keeper’s exaggerated complaints and bawdy observations.

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Under the direction of Nelle Lee (along with Alexander Butt and Amy Ingram), Shakespeare’s language sits well in the mouths of cast members, evident particularly in the witches’ combined foreshadowing chants. Mathew Bengston gives a solid performance in the monumental role of the Scottish warrior poised at the point of possibility, however, as the plot progresses his monologues appear as a distracting hybrid of accents.

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As the ruthless Lady Macbeth, Evelina Singh is excellent. Indeed, her ‘milk of human kindness’ speech is a show highlight as she at-once conveys anger, confusion and despair along with her articulated ambivalence of gendered activity. Although the couple’s central relationship is not particularly gripping, however, this is perhaps a fault of the abridgement.

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The production’s aesthetics are impressive. A moody soundscape (from designer JP Vizcay Wilson) supports the shaping of Macbeth’s ambition in terms of the supernatural and the superstitious. And costumes offer interesting symbolism with players appearing in dark colours of contrast to the ensemble of witches, all dressed in white. While not the demotic secret black and midnight hags of Shakespeare’s imagining, the dishevelled coven convey an elemental force that is visually arresting in its grip of Macbeth as they intertwine about the stage.

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In the creative hands of a company with reputation for excellence in re-imagining the cannon, like the previous Queensland Shakespeare Festival productions, “Macbeth” succeeds in bringing the Bard alive for contemporary audiences. It not only highlights the universality and ongoing relevance of Shakespeare’s themes but shows how, even in his darkest plays, there is still room for productions to make their own mark.

Photos c/o – Joel Devereux

Shakespeare in song

Kiss Me Kate (Opera Queensland)

QPAC, Concert Hall

November 12

As the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, 2016 has seen many of the Bard’s plays brought to theatrical life as part of the global celebration of his work. But perhaps it has been a case of saving the best for last with Opera Queensland’s final production of the year, “Kiss Me Kate”. The semi-staged concert version of Cole Porter’s multi-award winning musical based on Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” features colossal collaboration as the company is joined by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and a dynamic cast of singers and actors to bring the classic of American theatre to life.

From the moment of its opening number of Hattie (Lizzie Moore) and company singing showbiz anthem ‘Another Op’nin’, Another Show’, the Porter features are on show with both catchy melodies and bold, witty lyrics (Porter is one of the few composers who wrote both words and music).  And when (as was the maxim for musicals of the golden age) Act Two opens with a big syncopated dance number “Too Darn Hot” it doesn’t matter that it does not contribute to the plot, such is the addictive appeal of its jazzy 1940’s sound.

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The backstage musical revolves around a disastrous Baltimore production of “The Taming of the Shrew”; newly divorced actors Lilli (Cheryl Barker) and Fred (Peter Coleman-Wright) are the show’s bickering couple Katharine and Petruchio, both onstage and off. Add in some secondary characters, such as  Lois (Naomi Price) who plays Bianca, Katharine’s younger sister unable to marry until her shrewish sibling has found a husband, her off-stage suitors and a pair of gangsters (Bryan Proberts and Shaun Brown) intent on collecting a gambling debt from Fred and you are in for a whole lot of fun.

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Barker and Coleman-Wright are wonderful as the warring lead couple, each with their own commanding stage presence. Barker is appropriate feisty on stage as the shrewsome Katharine; proud and haughty, she is sharp-tonged in her song ‘I Hate Men’ and full of violent threats in her titular duet with Petruchio. There is melancholic beauty in her vulnerability in delivery, of ‘So in Love’ and also Coleman-Wright’s reprise of the number, with vocals that resonate with the song’s tragic resignation of unrequited love.

In her dual roles of Lois Lane and sweet Bianca, Naomi Price’s vocals are also excellent. As the charismatic actress she is the quintessential airhead ingénue, with a blunt and brassy accent of the Cyndi Lauper sort, but absolutely charming in all that she does.  With equal prowess, she delivers the tender ballad ‘Why Can’t You Behave’ to her boyfriend Bill (Jason Barry-Smith), who had just missed rehearsal because he was gambling, and later brings cheeky personality to ‘Always True to You in My Fashion’ in which she defends her faithfulness to him despite seeing and accepting gifts from wealthy men.

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Cole Porter’s tuneful score is full of fabulous numbers and under the baton of Guy Noble, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra brings them to glorious life, from the gentle string sounds that accompany ‘So In Love’ to the creation of the light-hearted mood of ‘We Open in Venice’ and the buoyancy of ‘Where is the Life That Late I Led’. However, sound issues spoil some song delivery, distracting from the performance when opening lines are lost. It would be helpful, also, to have a song list included in the show’s program. Jason Glenwright’s lighting awashes the Concert Hall with luscious blues and purples and Josh McIntosh’s costumes twirl about the place to convey a real sense of its time. Even the posture and presence of performers help to take the audience back to its era.

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As a tribute to Shakespeare, the show includes borrowed lines like Hamlet’s rub. And then there is ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’, which, thanks to its encore ensemble delivery will earworm with audiences for days. The humourous ditty from Probets and Brown as the dim debt-collecting thugs, is packed with puns and malapropisms and delivered with delicious vaudevillian sensibility as it explains how to pick up women though the type of forced rhymes that resonate through much of Porter’s lyrics (think ‘Let’s Fall in Love’).

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“Kiss Me Kate” is full of colour and movement as its large ensemble scatters the action amongst the orchestra and amid the whirl of props being danced on and off stage. Indeed, under the direction of Kris Stewart, performers make good use of their limited space. To present any take of “Kiss Me Kate”, semi-staged or otherwise, is sure to be an ambitious adventure (the show won the first Tony Award presented for Best Musical in 1949), but given the success of their 2015 “Candide”, this show was always going to be safe in Opera Queensland’s hands. The result is not just a triumphant comical marriage of Shakespeare and Porter, but also of orchestral and musical excellence that feels equally fresh as it does of its time.

Photos c/o – Steve Henry

Merchant mirth

The Merchant of Venice

Gardens Theatre

October 5 – 8

“The Merchant of Venice” is filled with some of Shakespeare’s most common motifs; it is set in Italy, a letter is sent to Padua and twice in the play daring escapes are executed through cross-dressing. Yet, it remains one of the canon’s most challenging, and, therefore, rarely performed works for modern audiences, thanks to its anti-semitic themes. However, under the direction of Michael Futcher and Helen Howard, QUT’s second year Acting students present the work in a way that speaks clearly of our prejudiced modern world, while remaining authentic, respectful and rigorous.

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The play begins by following the young and impulsive Bassanio as he sets out on a quest to woo Portia of Belmont. To do so, he must borrow from his titular wealthy merchant friend, Antonio. Because Antonio is currently cash-poor, having invested his money in overseas mercantile ventures, they need to seek the help of a disenfranchised moneylender, Shylock. While Shylock is initially hesitant due to Antonio’s; previous anti-semitism, he eventually agrees to the loan on condition that he can carve out a pound of Antonio’s flesh if he cannot punctually return the funds.

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Following the loan agreement, Bassanio is able to win Portia’s hand and heart when faced with a guesswork game of choice of three caskets, made of gold, silver and lead, forced upon her by her deceased father. When Antonio’s ships miscarry and his estate grows low, his bond to the Jew is forfeited so Portia, unbeknownst to Bassanio, disguises herself as a man and travels to Venice, pretending to be a doctor of the law to free Antonio from his execution at Shylock’s hand. Not only is Antonio’s life spared but the court proceeds to punish Shylock by forcing his conversion to Christianity.

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In spite of his contemptuous final reflections, many audience members see the ending as one of horrible injustice for the Jewish moneylender and this production brings a degree of sympathy to the antagonist’s loss of everything he values. Although not the ‘old Shylock’ referenced in the text, Ryan Hodson is excellent in the role. Of hunched physicality but robustness of voice, his layered performance ranges from rage in reaction to his daughter Jessica’s elopement with the Christian, Lorenzo to delight at the prospect of revenge upon Antonio, adeptly incorporating humour, villainy, and empathy as he makes his story both one of an angry old man, pushed to barbarity by the barbarism around him as much as a comment on race.

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As Antonio, the arbitrary victim of Shylock’s rage, Tom Wilson is an early standout, setting the tone of the text, despite only appearing occasionally on stage. His Antonio is one of honour but also much melancholy amidst his generosity, which is revealed especially in scenes with his dear friend, the equally confident and arrogant Bassanio (Karl Stuifzand), with only suggestion of a homosexual dimension to the relationship between the two.

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Ebony Nave brings an emotional range to the prominent and intelligent Portia, especially evident though her reactions in the third casket scene where she initially feigns disinterest to appear nonchalant but then hopes for the success of Bassanio, a Venetian, scholar and solider visitor in her father’s time. Self-assertive after his correct choice of the lead casket, her performance is playfully energetic, particularly in the final scene resolution of the ring plot.

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The cast excels at performing the Bard’s dense language with conversational tone and easily find the play’s moments of mirth. Tom Cossettini and Alex Neal are delightfully dexterous as comic-relief clowns Lancelot and his father Gobbo.

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Portia’s satiric recalled cataloguing of her wooers according to national stereotypes is full of light-hearted fun and Alex Neal also delivers a hilarious pantomimish performance as Portia’s second potential suitor, the egotistical Prince of Aragon who, when faced with the silver casket’s inscription ‘who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves’ assumes desert and the instant unlock of his fortunes.

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QUT’s second-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) students have created a sharp and clear “The Merchant of Venice” that balances humour with its examination of the baser aspects of humanity. Ultimately, however, its theme of racism prevails and by throwing light on this, the work serves to showcase the universality of its themes of justice and mercy, showing how it is not Shakespeare plays that are timeless.

Photos c/o – Fiona Sonja de Sterke

Midsummer mayhem

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

(Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre)

QPAC, The Playhouse

September 9 – 17

It is a rare thing to be an hour into a show and still have no idea at all where it is going to go. And in the case of Filter Theatre’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, this is a very good thing, given the absurdity with which the group has taken what is arguably Shakespeare’s most popular and transformed it into a giddy and gleeful postmodern romp.

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That said, it does start a little slowly with, like so many Shakespearean works, a prologue, delivered with true Irish charm, but of frantic pace by Peter Quince (Ed Gaughan). Drifting into tangents about the Royal family, for example, he tells audience members that they are about to enter the Ancient Athens of ‘fantastic architecture and thriving homosexual culture’. He promises that the part of Bottom is meant to be played by a famous actor, but a technical hitch means that an ‘audience volunteer’ may have assume the role. It is all in keeping with the clumsy craft of the play’s Mechanicals’ amateur dramatics, and, as the curtain rises on the Athenian court, Shakespeare’s society is represented in the play by three distinct class groups, lovers, mechanicals and fairies. A series of mix-ups orchestrated by king of the fairies Oberon (Harry Jardine) causes lovers’ quarrels between Lysander and Hermia, Demetrius and Helena, frantic chases and general chaos that needs to be resolved before King Theseus’s fast approaching wedding.

What the audience sees, however, is no ethereal forest setting with set design placing the action within a run-down public bathroom of white tiles, water leaks and paper-walls through which characters literally burst on to the stage. Staging is chaotically creative as pieces are destroyed and as Puck (Ferdy Roberts) flings blue liquid gel love juice around, to instant aphrodisiac effect. Oberon, dressed as superhero in all-in-one suit and cape, flies, falls and is covered in flour as part of an epic food fight (with audience involvement). Rather than unruliness, this makes for a hilarious experience that flies by without realisation of its near two hour duration. It’s not all froth and frivolous bubble, however, for as contrast to the mania of the Mechanicals, the lovers, speak only Shakespeare’s words.

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This is a high-energy and physically-demanding show and all the performers deliver accordingly. Francesca Zoutewelle is solid as Hermia, Cat Simmons is an initially dignified Titania and John Lightbody is sensationally smooth as the lustful Lysander, once transformed entirely from his former unassuming self in reaction to the love potion. And Demetrious (Karl Queensborough) makes music out of the Bard’s iambic pentameter. Another standout is Ferdy Roberts as grumpy, tattooed and mischievous rocker roadie/stagehand Puck, from his commanding entrance to the dignified delivery of his final wishes of good night unto all. And Fergus O’Donnell makes the scripted chaos of Bottom’s ascension to stage seem spontaneously improvised. Together, they provide a refreshing interpretation of the characters

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Despite its anarchy, in many ways, this “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” keeps with Shakespeare’s original text though its weave of comedy through all three of the plot strands and, in particular through the ridiculous mirth of the working class Mechanicals and their presentation to the audience of an abbreviated “Pyramus and Thisbe”, making us laugh at them rather than with them, in a way different to many other of Shakespeare’s jesters and clowns.

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Every comic device is evident in this fast-moving funny-fest. There are moments of stand-up (showing that apparently 20 years is in fact too soon for a Michael Hutchence suicide joke), celebrity impersonations, spontaneous songs, slapstick, clowning and innuendo. The greatest laughs come, however, from notice of the little details, like the lameness of a lion costume and Oberon and Puck’s pull up of picnic chairs and crack open of drinks to watch the lovers battle it out.

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Filter Theatre have made their reputation mainly for inventive takes on classic plays and this is especially evident in their sound innovation, and Chris Branch and Tom Haines’s sound design and original music is masterful . Music is effectively integrated into this production and the live band, doubling as Mechanicals, in break from their play of retro kitsch Barry White and The Ramones numbers, add the necessary magic to assist the audience in imagining the invisible fairies to life and suggesting Bottom’s transition to donkey by the sounds of coconut-shell hooves clapping. And a fight between Lysander and Demetrius is enacted as a video game, with Puck at the console, with the noise of gunfire and explosions.

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Although a modernisation of a Shakespearean classic is hardly a ground-breaking idea, Filter Theatre manages to bring something truly unique to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Characters and scenes are presented with new purpose, freshly realising, in particular, the text’s sexual innuendo. It’s not always cohesive, but it is superlatively funny in its gleeful irreverence. Cutting and adding so much text is filled with risk, but it is risk that exists at the foundation of all exciting art. And, in this instance, the liberties taken with the text make for not only a highly-entertaining, but a genuinely accessible version. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in the theatre.