Double ‘Bill’: Bottom's Tale + Mr & Mrs The Scottish Play

Performing Arts Centre, Aranuui High School, Christchurch

20/11/2008 - 22/11/2008

Production Details

Bottom’s Tale
Excerpts from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Prepare to be enchanted as our hapless hero, Nick Bottom, encounters a magical world inhabited by fairies and sprites. Robin Goodfellow (aka Puck) mistakenly turns Nick into a donkey, Nick falls in love with Titania-Queen of the Fairies, and Oberon-the King of the Fairies, is not very pleased!

Mr & Mrs The Scottish Play
A Shakespearean parody adapted by Robert Gilbert

Whatever you do, NEVER mention the title of the Scottish play—else terrible luck might befall thee. Therefore, Mr and Mrs The Scottish Play must go about their grisly deeds without so much as uttering their own name. Egged on by three weird sisters, Mr The Scottish Play is destined to become the King of all the Scots and Mrs The Scottish Play his bloody queen! However, Mrs The Scottish Play has her ‘Scottishness’ severely questioned and by play’s end the stage is liberally littered with corpses.  

at the Performing Arts Centre, Aranuui High School
20-22 November at 7.30pm.   

1hr 45 mins, incl. interval

Wonderfully diverting

Review by Lindsay Clark 21st Nov 2008

On offer, should you need time out to laugh, are two polished bits of buffoonery.

The ‘mad spirit’ that romps through Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is rampant in this compilation of the excerpts which make up Bottom’s Tale . Director Robert Gilbert’s ebullient sense of comedy extends into the second half, a spoof on Macbeth entitled Mr and Mrs The Scottish Play, so that the time passes very quickly and laughs abound where no laughs ever were. 

Poetry takes a back seat but the ride is so lighthearted and the pace so dashing that ‘Bill’ is the winner yet again.

The young company, made up of graduates of the Aranui Theatre Academy, has just completed a national tour and if there ever were untidy moments in their work, these have been overtaken by ease and fluency. Their energy is rarely less than full on. Their ensemble work is totally assured and their relish of the roles infectious.

The first piece opens a little startlingly with percussive sounds calling and responding from opposite sides of the stage. This extends into a ‘conversation’ between two balloons morphing into the general tomfoolery of Puck himself, played with great merriment and dexterity by the delightfully diminutive Andrew Bolitho.

Umbrellas and wacky costuming (ragged tutus, tights and wellies) help sustain the mood as haughty Titania and hapless Bottom are set up for our entertainment. Clever cutting allows for some doubling. Oberon and Flute are played with delectation by Steven Keen, well-matched by Sara Ninness as Titania and Ruth Wilson’s earnest Bottom. Fi Glasgow’s First Fairy/ Peaseblossom has a lot of fun with the roles, finding a fresh face for the familiar ‘interview’ with Puck and everywhere a most engaging busy-ness.

And so it goes on. Mr and Mrs The Scottish Play has fun with the superstition about voicing ‘Macbeth’. The same line up of actors combine vigorous Geordie antics with those three endlessly do-able witches (Which Witch, Spell Witch and Weird Witch) to cover the dreadful tale in a twinkle.

Once again, costume plays an important part in setting the tone and heightening the high jinks. Beryl Ramsay builds effective detail into every colourful turnout.

It is, as expected , an ensemble now working with practised ease. A dimmer pack failing them disconcerted no one, least of all the audience. What is more remarkable is the freshness and sparkle still pumping from their wonderfully diverting performance, at the end of a long tour .


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