MIDSUMMER DREAMS @ The Kitchen Building gets 7/10

Midsummer Dreams
@ The Kitchen Building
Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Modicum Theatre invited audiences to “get lost in the forest” in Midsummer Dreams, their modern, choose-your-own-adventure style reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Audience members were encouraged to interact with characters and choose whose storyline they followed as they entered into the dream-like promenade space.

The play used a combination of improvisation as well as lines from the Bard’s play. The actors brought sensitivity and clarity to the Shakespearean language, breathing life and humour into the play, along with the occasional swear word and a complete disregard for the fourth wall.

While the acting took place across the many rooms of The Kitchen Building in the Heathcote Cultural Precinct, the location was almost unrecognisable with fairy lights, drapes of fabric and bead curtains allowing participants to suspend their disbelief and get lost in the narrative. Actors donned neon clothes and body paint under blacklight bulbs to create the otherworldliness of the fairy realm.

The set wasn’t the only thing given a 21st century makeover; the characters were reinterpreted too. Puck became a DJ with magical glitter paste, Hermia rocked fishnet stockings, and the players donned the classic Australian high vis vests, flashing their Fringe World Artist’s Passes to whoever would listen.

The range of rooms allowed spaces to be tailored to the mood and intimacy of the scene.  Wander into the dreamy red-lit dressing room, and you could hear Lysander (Leigh Fitzpatrick) whisper poetry to his Hermia (Bee Tandy) from love heart post-it notes. Take a seat on the grass to be a part of the audience for the players’ grand and tragic performance of Pyramus and Thisbe.

Aside from the occasional lack of projection or slip out of character, the actors did amazingly well for such a demanding and ambitious production. Tight cues and dance sequences proved the dedication of everyone there. Andrea Kendrick played Queen Titania with a commanding presence, and Hannah Anderson as the ever-lovable Bottom were standouts for their commitment to character and hilarious improvisations.

For those with a sound knowledge of the original, wandering from room to room and bumping into the occasional monologue was delightful, but for others, the intricately woven narrative may be confusing, and the significance of certain key scenes lost. It is best to brush up on the plot and character names beforehand to get the most out of the experience. Some actors play multiple parts, so peek at the program to get the rundown on who is who. To the avid Shakespeare fans, be prepared to miss a favourite scene or two with multiple events occurring at the same time.

This reimagination may have sacrificed plot clarity, but it perfectly captured the wit and vivacity of Shakespeare’s classic. Grab a fan and cool Queen Titania on her beanbag throne, compliment Bottom on his acting (he has a very big head), or join Puck’s conga line. Each audience member is guaranteed to leave with a unique experience, and if you embrace it, you are in for a wild night!