Adelaide Fringe 2015
2 sheilas. 2 blokes. Unrequited love or stalkerish suitors? A love quadrangle – of sorts. A forest full of fairies, one ass, a few randoms and intoxicating floral love potions … They must be tripping.
Brighton Performing Arts Centre is a sizeable, high-spec venue and patrons were flocking inside – to the air-conditioning from an oppressive 39°s outdoors. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was adapted for stage by Director Ellie Gould. It was still a little long, but maybe the heat in the auditorium affected patience. The air-conditioning was turned off when the performance started, I believe, to enable the use of an unnecessary smoke machine (the lighting design coped fine on its own). This was just ridiculous, the audience sweltered, some even leaving at intermission.
However, the production was not bad at all. There were definitely more accomplished actors in the mix, but everyone was putting in good efforts. Shakespeare is hard. Shakespeare to a general audience, not necessarily au fait with Shakespearean English, is really, really hard. Reverb Theatre coped well. I had some direction concerns over actors not always facing out, enunciating, and shuffling onstage – posture was also an issue for the female leads. Overall, the supporting cast far outshone the leads – so I did wonder about casting. I really enjoyed Elizabeth Bastable’s performance as Robin/Puck – engrossing. Other stand outs came from all the fairies – Emily Ravenscroft as Titania was hilarious. Everyone in the audience was in love with the mechanicals, laughter began when they simply appeared onstage. There were tears of laughter at Bottom/Pyramus’s (Luke Saunders) death scene. And, Marcus Falckh as Flute/Thisbe was really rather hilarious too.
With such a great theatre space the production didn’t need much in terms of set design. It wasn’t overdone – tables and chairs, a Bakelite radio and lava lamp here and there. The floral arrangement to signify the forest was pretty and eye-catching. Scene changes – seamless. I enjoyed the lighting design and noted the consideration put into it – particularly in the forest. The sound design was ok with ambient 1960s tracks and most of the cast were in 60s garb. But, that was it. I didn’t feel the company’s production matched its billing – ‘Shakespeare meets the swinging sixties’? I kept waiting for some jiving, mashed potatoes, and twists but there wasn’t even some ponying – this was a directorial missed opportunity and a big let down.
I’ll say it again – Shakespeare is hard. Some say the hardest. I am always impressed when an amateur company tackles Shakespearean drama. Reverb Theatre have a good play, which I did enjoy. I think a truly 60s interpretation would suit a Fringe-going audience better. And, if they had kept the air-conditioning on – I would have liked it even more.