A Midsummer Nights Dream 2007 Feb-March

by William Shakespeare

Directed by Florence McFarlane

Link to what the critics said

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What the Critics Said

Geriatrics give plausible twist


The two plays of Shakespeare that are most associated with youth are Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and so to have the latter set in a rest home where most of the characters are in their dotage, as they are in Butterfly Creek Theatre Troupe’s latest Bard-In-The-Yard production, seems an unusual approach.

Yet surprisingly this works exceptionally well, showing that elderly folk regressing into second childhood can be as fanciful and romantic as adolescents. In this instance, Theseus (David Gledhill), the owner of the Athena Villas Retirement Centre, is about to be betrothed to head nurse Hippolyta (Kat Angus). However, before the nuptials can begin and much to the annoyance of Egeus, the chief social worker (Sandra Gillespie), four of the residents elope to the native bush behind the rest home.

At the same time a group of workmen are putting together a play for Theseus’ wedding, while Dr Oberon (Will Clannachan) is dispensing happy pills to young intern Puck (Theo Nettleton) as a way of persuading him to help the doctor in his advances on occupational therapist Titania (Alex Cooper).

From here the play follows very much Shakespeare’s original, with lots of mayhem and confusion till all the lovers are finally reconciled and attend the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta and the entertaining but highly exaggerated performances of the workers’ play.

By having the central characters as geriatrics, director Florence McFarlane has given the play a highly entertaining but plausible twist, the many lines that have a youthful ring coming across in this production as not only real but very funny. The four actors in the roles of the lovers vying for each other’s affections are a sheer delight as they clamber over their zimmer frames trying to quell their ardour.

Nettleton is an energetic Puck and John Marwick gives a consummate performance as Bottom, eloquently mastering Shakespeare’s language, to make this unusual rendition of one of the Bard’s most popular and famous plays highly entertaining.

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