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Print Version

Auckland Fringe 2013
Written by Stephen Lunt
presented by Point Blank Productions

at Whammy Bar, St Kevinís Arcade, K' Road, Auckland
From 27 Feb 2013 to 1 Mar 2013
[1 hr]

Reviewed by Anna Stillaman, 28 Feb 2013

Written and directed by Stephen Lunt, A Midsummer Mess hurls three actors and four puppets through a twisted and balmy version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

The play promises to be fast moving and there's no doubt that the actors are moving quickly.  Unfortunately, the audience are left bewildered.  I missed a lot of what was being said; it was all happening too fast. 

There is some excellent writing in Stephen Lunt's script: play within a play stuff, twists on Shakespeare's lines, witty modernisms – all of which should make this play excel.  Sadly, it just isn't translating. 

What I do like about it is that it is unashamedly silly.  Hermia and Lysander are transformed into a lesbian couple, Demetrius is a Star Wars fanatic, Bottom is a guy with three bottoms, and Titania is a slovenly drunk.  Lunt also adds a sexy shower scene between Hermia, Helena and Puck (that disappointingly happens off stage, but then all the good bits in Shakespeare do). 

I enjoyed the use of puppets – Hermia as a hairy yellow southern belle being a particular highlight.  Unfortunately the puppetry overall isn't really working for me; the skills in puppetry needs to be honed further in order to truly pull this off. 

The set is simple: a plain curtain behind which the actors change and emerge, which is also well utilised as a prop.  The three actors infuse the play with passion and energy, taking command of the constrained space.  Isaac White sleazes beautifully as a libertine Oberon.  Juleigh Parker comes into her own as sexy and inebriated Titania, and Jessica Walsh wins our hearts as sweetly screwed up Helena.

A Midsummer Mess is a comic spin on a comic play.  It seeks to be sillier than a play that is already absurd.  It cleverly twists dialogue that is already clever.  Overall I am left wondering what exactly it seeks to add.  But, the writing is good.  And the production has heart.  So, when the actors settle into their roles and the changeovers are tightened, the play has a chance of finding its feet. 
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