A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
06/02/2014 - 12/02/2014
A LATE-SUMMER, MID-CITY, SHAKESPEAREAN TREAT
“The lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact.”
This February, emerging theatre company Bright Orange Walls will lead a cast and crew of Wellington’s up-and-coming theatre practitioners in restaging Shakespeare’s famous comedy: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With collaborators sourced from Toi Whakaari, Victoria University, Playshop Performance Company, and Long Cloud Youth Theatre, this project promises to be a merging of theatrical methodologies, styles and ideas.
This project is fuelled by a desire to fill a perceived hole in Wellington’s local theatre industry. It’s aims are to respect and do justice to the best of Shakespearean theatrical tradition, while also building upon Bright Orange Walls’ previous work: utilising a transformative and engaging design aesthetic to urbanise and localise this magical text.
This production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a big step for Bright Orange Walls, and will be one of the flagship events for emerging theatre in this city. Complete with a pop-up bad, a converted space, and an audience of revelling punters, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is set to unite audience and practioneers alike, and be a truthful and mesmerizing Shakespearean experience hidden deep within Wellington’s CBD.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
74 Ghuznee Street – look for the door
6th – 12th of February, 8pm
Tickets are $14 unwaged and $16 waged.
Shot in arm for Shakespeare
Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 18th Feb 2014
I nearly didn’t see A Midsummer Night’s Dream because I have seen this warhorse numerous times. However, the new and highly talented company Bright Orange Walls’ production, under Samuel Phillips’ lively direction, is fresh, funny and a shot in the arm for people like me who think Shakespeare needs a rest for a while.
There’s no escaping him. Already we have seen this year All’s Well that Ends Well, Horatio, and he even pops up in the road comedy I Could Live Here. And then there’s a Russian Dream on the horizon, not to mention this week’s Macbeth in the Dell.
Using a huge carpeted space, a few lengths of coloured lights, and two fire hoses, as well as talent and imagination, Samuel Phillips and his cast of thirteen actors (with not a weak link amongst them), perform for two unbroken hours with high energy and a confidence that is rare in such a young company.
I will not forget and will judge every future Dream I see by the way they handle Oberon’s magical flower, Love-in-Idleness, and how they perform the bawdy comedy of the chink in the wall through which Pyramus and Thisbe talk. And I doubt if anyone anywhere has ever performed Thisbe’s death scene in so shocking a manner before.
No longer does Puck have to be a will-o-the-wisp type of fairy racing round the world in forty minutes. He’s just as effective as an amusing lackadaisical, cynical servant who condescends to do his foppish master’s bidding.
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Review by Hannah Smith 07th Feb 2014
Rather than the traditional Athenian forest, Bright Orange Walls’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream is set in the urban jungle. The lower ground floor of the old Baby Factory premises has been transformed. Swathes of white paper drape from ceiling to floor, festoons of coloured bulbs provide a carnival atmosphere. The vibe is like a warehouse party from the late nineties.
This dance party atmosphere carries through the high energy, sexy production. A thirteen-strong cast powers the action with liveliness and enthusiasm, filling what could be a cavernous space with limbs and squeals and lots of laughter.
The production employs the classic Theseus/Oberon, Titania/Hippolyta doubling and cross-casts the lesser fairies with the Rude Mechanicals. The fairies are post-orgy party people, garbed in underwear and dishevelled business attire; they circle the centre of action, leering lasciviously at the lovers’ tiffs and the mechanicals’ amateur dramatics.
The broad humour of these scenes is dealt with gleefully. Brynley Stent as Peter Quince successfully plays a nervous pleasure in the presence of the audience, Jack Buchanan makes the most of Bottom the Weaver with glittering eyes and sweeping declamations, and Jonathan Price manages to milk a surprisingly large amount of comedy out of Snout the Tinker.
The cast are sure-footed with the comedy, although occasionally the lovers are playing an emotional truth that disrupts the flow of the verse and doesn’t let the written jokes land, and in their scenes the comedy that resonates most are moments of business outside of the lines.
There are some fresh takes on the material – the dynamic between Oberon and Puck is unusual and interesting, and Tom Clarke plays a sardonic Robin Goodfellow with cool energy and a street smart style that is contemporary and refreshing, and has the opening night audience hooting with laughter.
Under Sam Phillips’ direction the ensemble clips along at a fine pace – no opportunity to get bored, or fret about two hours without an interval.
Rowan McShane’s lighting emphasises the unusual the depth and shape of the room nicely, and Te Aihe Butler’s sound does what it can in a space that is not friendly on the ears. The other production design – a collaborative effort between Emma Nichols and Harriet Denby – is tasteful and no frills, and this ethos informs the action as practical objects found in the room become key props. Demetrius getting be-spelled with Love-in-Idleness is delightful.
While it is exciting to be in a found space there are some perils: the echo in the room makes some lines inaudible, and sightlines are not ideal. Get there early and nab a seat at the front. You will be entertained.
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