Tuesday, 22 January 2008

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dec5-22, 2007

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
The Preferred Play Company
When & Where: Theatreworks, Dec 5-8, Dec 16-22 until Dec 22, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is a perennial favourite with its fairies and love potions, rough clowns and aristocratic lovers. 

The roles of the Fairy King and Queen are in the capable hands of experienced actors, Andrew Blackman and Danielle Carter, but all other roles feature recent graduates of the Victorian College of the Arts. Director Glenda Linscott remounts her 2006 VCA student production here.

The play is most often performed in an edited version with actors playing multiple roles but this version is near full length. Blackman is magnetic and imposing as Oberon, his commanding presence, statuesque physicality and= resonant voice testament to his experience performing Shakespeare. Every image in Oberon’s lyrical dialogue is clear and he inhabits the character fully relishing the Fairy King’s power and passion, his wit and playfulness.

Danielle Carter is stately and elegant as his airy consort Titania, shifting effortlessly from regal to lovelorn and from raging to seductive. The rivalry and lust between this fairy couple is palpable.

The younger performers, although they are energetic and committed, are less secure in the classical text. There is a little too much shouting and running about and too little connection to the meaning and imagery of Shakespeare’s poetry.

Nonetheless the cast hurls itself with vigour into the playful roles of the fairies. Two actors share the role of Puck (Stuart Bowden, Katherine Harris) thus allowing the sprite to appear in two places at once and to thrown his
voice magically.

Several performers double as the Mechanicals and their final amateur tragedy performed for the Duke (Benedict Hardie) and Hippolyta his bride (Meredith Penman) has some funny slapstick moments.

One issue is that there seems to be little distinction between some of the characters. The male lovers Demetrius (Carl Nilsson-Polias) and Lysander (Tim Ross) are indistinguishable from each other except by their dialogue and, apart from their physical characteristics, Hermia (Anne-Louise Sarks) and Helena (Celia Mitchell) could be interchangeable.

The fairies purposely mirror each other as a chorus but this does not allow for any distinctive characterisation and all of the tradesmen except the swaggering Bottom (Gerard Lane) are timid and terrified.

Perhaps the extremely short rehearsal period has not allowed the cast to explore greater subtlety and variety that could give more range and colour to the production.

Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment