Let me begin with a quote taken from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, as spoken by the character Nick Bottom:
“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.”
Fairy King Oberon (Pascal Tibbits) and henchman (Elijah Tibbits, tree) watch on as Lysander (David Holt) and Demetrius (Jass Chahal, kneeling) compete for the love of Helena (Gin Mabey). Photo: David Tauranga.
What a dream I had after attending Wednesday night’s opening of Summer Shakespeare in the Bay’s inaugural production at Te Puna Quarry Park.
The nightmare I face today is how to cover everything.
SSITB and Twice as Good Productions do an absolutely wonderful job in their retelling of one of Shakespeare’s most enchanting and hilarious plays.
There was a great pace and energy, and soon as one scene finished, bang, the next began and the audience weren’t left to drift away.
In my mind director Suzy Sampson, who also plays the Fairy Queen Titania, did a spectacular job casting this show. Each actor suited their role well and the joy on their faces said it all.
I was most impressed by the power and command of the female leads Katy Leitze (Hermia) and Gin Mabey (Helena), who switched easily between hilarity and poignancy.
They were counterbalanced by David Holt (Lysander) and Jass Chahal (Demetrius), who also showed great ability to switch from powerful to powerless when the occasion called.
The Mechanicals, who perform the play-within-the-play and portrayed by Dylan Fewin, Sarah Das, Benny Ron, Naddine Tibbits, Lilly O’Donnell and Abigail Donoghue, also deserve a special mention.
This is maybe the third time I have seen a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and this was by far the loudest I’ve heard an audience laugh its collective bottom off. Bravo!
Even the smaller roles added a little something to the production. Their presence made the mind dance and when they’d wander on stage, smiles crept onto audience members’ faces.
The Dragon Lawn is the perfect location for this show and the small roped off section used as the stage was expertly utilised by the cast, giving the show a brilliant three-dimensional feel.
But for me, visually, the real magic happened after the sun sunk below the treeline, with its beams replaced by portable stage lights.
This helps to highlight the notion of ‘dreaming’, and I especially loved it when actors would stroll past the portable light and cast these long, elegant silhouettes across the trees and the grass.
Lying on a blanket watching an amazing performance with cheese, a warm black coffee and the blue light of a meteor streaking across the sky – even Shakespeare couldn’t pen a night like that.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on stage at Te Puna Quarry Park until Friday, February 20.
Tickets cost $29 for adults, $24 for students and senior citizens, or $19 for groups of 10 via Ticketek or Baycourt Theatre Box Office.