Australian Shakespeare Company
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Royal Botanical Gardens
Under a blanket of stars the Australian Shakespeare Company brings to life one of the most well known plays by William Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Quite an elaborate story with three plots running, the performance opens of Theseus and Hippolyta planning their royal wedding which will take place in four days. However, what is a wedding without complications? In marches Egeus quite annoyed that Hermia is permitted to marry Demetrius, but Hermia is in love with Lysander. Hermia must choose over obedience or death according to Athenian law. The two young lovers make a pact to flee, telling only Helen, Hermia’s close friend – who happens to be in love with Demetrius.
Meanwhile, a group of Athenian tradesmen (known as the Mechanicals), led by Peter Quince ( played brilliantly by Madeline Somers), are planning to perform a play in celebration of the Duke’s wedding. They rehearse The Tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe in the same forest.
Which brings us to the third plot. The fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania, argue over Titania’s refusal to give up her page-boy to Oberon. He sends his servant Puck to find a magic plant to cast a spell on Titania.
The juice of the plant, when squeezed onto the eyes of someone asleep, causes them to fall in love with the first creature they see when they wake up. Oberon uses the juice on Titania as she sleeps in her bower.
Meanwhile, Helena chases Demetrius in the forest and their fighting disturbs Oberon. He tells Puck to use the magic plant on Demetrius too, so that he will fall in love with Helena. However, it seems Puck isn’t too good with instructions and gets confused over the two Athenian men and uses it on Lysander instead, who promptly falls in love with Helena. Both women are confused and Hermia furiously attacks her friend.
The play within a play is enchanting, at times confusing, however it is extremely funny. It’s hard to really pinpoint who gives the best performance, because each actor excels in their various roles. Syd Brisbane is exceptional as Puck, his mischievous nature is funny and brilliant. Elizabeth Brennan is brilliant as Bottom ( the Weaver) gives the audience laugh after laugh and is hilarious. The use of comical facial expressions and her performance really makes Larissa Teal as Helena steal every scene she is in. Physical comedy can be challenging and Larissa nails it, making her performance memorable. Worth mentioning is Cierra Shook, a fairy assistant of Puck who doesn’t utter a single line but along with her counter part is fantastic to watch with her acrobatics and amusing facial expressions.
As the leads Oberon and Titania, both Nicole Nabout and Hugh Sexton give amazing performances and bring the characters to life, both passionate performances that highlight their excellence. As the Fairy Queen Nabout is stunning in an metallic blue dress, her performance quite captivating. The entire cast exude passion for performing, and this is constantly present in their presentation of each character, and each member of the cast should be commended for bringing this energy to the stage.
Having modernized the show to suit contemporary audiences, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the jewel in Shakespeare’s crown, exploring dreams and illusion, magical and the mystical and is a timeless classic. The cast of the Australian Shakespeare Company have done a wonderful job bringing it to the stage.
This summer the Australian Shakespeare Company have bought a number of fantastic shows to the stage, from Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies to Wind in the Willows, each performance is certainly worth checking out if you are searching for some high quality entertainment this summer.
You can purchase tickets to the season here
Words by Amanda Lee Starkey