A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Merrigong Theatre Company’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ opening night in the Wollongong Botanic Gardens was a huge success.

This Shakespearean classic was adapted by Danielle King and directed by Merrigong Theatre Company’s Artistic Development Manager, Leland Keane. The careful blend of traditional Shakespearian language mixed with modern-day coarse language, with the ingenious idea of using the names of the Illawarra suburbs, amplified the humour and the audience’s engagement with the dialogue.

The players were engaging with the audience from before the get-go, embracing their roles not only on the stage but also whilst onlookers were still filing in to find their space.

The ‘Intern’, played by Charlotte Dickinson, paraded around asking audience members what the difference was between an internship and work experience. Bradley Ward, doubling as the H&S Manager responsible for overseeing ‘Safety and traffic’, demanded to know if we were following the rules. John Michael Narres, playing Bottom, started a ‘Woo-off’ with the different sides of the audience, using his selfie stick to record both before and during the performance.

Then, the real action began, and the backdrop for the play was absolutely stunning. We were blessed with a beautiful, clear night and a gorgeous sunset as a backdrop for the first act. Be sure to pack a jacket or a blanket, as it does get a little chilly once the sun has gone.

Given the outdoor setting, the actors did an incredible job at projecting and ensuring they were engaged with and speaking to all the different sections of the audience at different times. No one side or group in the audience was left perpetually straining to hear which can sometimes be the case in an outdoor setting.

The musical interludes and summaries by composer Kay Proudlove were both comedic and insightful, particularly if you were unsure about specific plot points that had just occurred. There were a few very rare moments where the music and the amplification of her voice overpowered the actors, depending on where you were sitting and where they were speaking from.

A commendation must be given to the costume designer Katja Handt for the incredible outfits of the fairies, Queen Titania, Oberon, and, in particular, Puck. The colour scheme of the white outfits of the mortals compared to the bright, earthy colours of the fairies was a great visual representation of the characters, particularly with the cast who played multiple mortal and fairy characters.

The technical element of Bottom’s transition between man and Donkey is always a thorny one to portray, particularly when the stage is an outdoor setting, but I am pleased to say that this was accomplished incredibly well. The scaffolding of the donkey head, along with the dual-purpose tail and whip, was a brilliant interpretation and complemented the lighting design beautifully.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream features an all-star cast and runs from Thursday to Sunday until November 26th at the Turpentine Lawn in the Wollongong Botanical Gardens. This was a wonderful experience and an adaption that will surely delight locals and visitors alike.

Shakespeare in the Garden – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

When: 9 to 26 November 2023
Times: Thu – Sun 7 pm
Where: Turpentine Lawn – Wollongong Botanic Garden
Performance Warnings: Ages 10+

Tickets: Fri & Sat – Adult: $59, Under 30s: $49, Pensioner/Student/Groups 8+: $54, Family of 4: $196, Sun-Thu – Adult: $49, Under 30s: $39, Pensioner/Student/Groups 8+: $44, Family of 4: $156, School Groups 8+: $23

Bookings: https://merrigong.com.au/shows/shakespeare-in-the-garden-a-midsummer-nights-dream/

Accessibility: Shakespeare in the Garden – A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an accessible event for all to enjoy. Please refere to the Box Office on 4224 5999 for details.

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre Reviews to see what else is on in your town.