Don’t have time to read the full review? Click here for a quick summary of the who, what, where and wine of this production.
“The course of true love never did run smooth.”
― William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. There’s something about his story of forbidden love, meddling fairies, and an enchanted forest that brings audiences back time and time again. Well, that, and the band of misfit actors on a well-intentioned but poorly-planned journey to perform a terrible play for the King. This adaptation by director Sean O’Shea, performed outside on sunset, is every bit as magical and laugh-out-loud funny as you want it to be.
This is a fairly true-to-script portrayal of Shakespeare’s story, but with some changes to the characters. One of our sets of Lovers, Helena and Demetrius are a same-sex couple (renamed to Helenus and Demetrius). The band of actors traipsing through the forest are also portrayed by actors of different genders. It’s a simple but really positive and effective way to switch up the story, put a different lens on some of the dialogue, and bring this 16th Century story into the modern day.
The cast as a whole is impressive, spouting their tongue-twisting Shakespearean dialogue with excellent articulation and complete conversational ease. You really root for our four lovers Hermia (Jade Fuda), Lysander (Darius Williams), Helenus (Rupert Bevan) and Demetrius (Toby Blome) as they navigate the crazy goings-on in the forest, and also love them in their other roles as part of the misfit actors group.
Our main character Puck (Wendy Strehlow), the bumbling fairy who wreaks havoc on the Lovers during their time in the forest, is hilariously portrayed as a blundering tea lady complete with a trolley and apron. You could sense the audience’s excitement every time Strehlow came out on stage! Her scenes with Claudia Ware as Oberon, the imperious head fairy, depicted here as a military captain, are some of the most captivating. Another standout is Bishanyia Vincent as Bottom, the self-appointed star of the misfit actor’s group whose head is transformed into that of an ass mid-way through the show. Vincent is just so, so funny in this role and elevates every scene she’s in.
While the backdrop of forest and dusky sky creates a stunning aesthetic, complemented by beautiful lighting effects by lighting designer Ruth Lowry, the setup on the stage and costuming are very DIY with some clever elements, wooden pieces that can be moved and flipped to become new props and furniture. There’s enough to enable the actors to tell their story and for the audience to keep track of which characters are on stage at any one time, but only just, which leans into the farcical nature of the story and generates a lot of laughs.
A beautiful story, a great cast, and a gorgeous location – I can’t imagine a more enjoyable way to spend a summer’s evening than at A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Orange Wine | Wine Pairing
Sitting outside watching the sky change colour and the trees become silhouettes of their former selves, I knew this play needed a wine that felt a little bit special. Orange wine is not a single grape, but rather a technique for producing wine with white varietals that gives them a little more colour and texture than your typical white wine. It’s one of the more divisive trends in the wine industry, but isn’t that what makes it fun??
My Pick: Alpha Box & Dice, 2020 Golden Mullet Fury Semillon, Muscat, Riesling blend, McLaren Vale, SA
Alpha Box & Dice is one of my favourite vineyards. They love to create unique and unexpected blends and they are really, really good at it. A delicious mix of Semillon, to lend structure and lots of citrus and stone fruit flavours, Muscat, for a hit of acidity and jammy, nuttier flavours, and a kick of sweetness from Botrytis Riesling. This drop is one you’ll hope you didn’t dream up.
Show Name, Theatre Co. | Tasting Notes
|Aussie Season||17 to 30 December, Bella Visa Farm | 7 to 22 January, Leura Everglades. Produced by Sport for Jove|
|Theatre Type & Genre||Shakespearean, play, farce, romance|
|See it if you like||Shakespeare, fairy stories, absurdity|
|Wine Pairing||Orange Wine|
|Criteria for Wine Pairing||Textural, colourful, off-dry|