A Midsummer Night's Dream

Tripped Theatre’s stylised adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream fits one of the Bard’s most famous and fun plays into the space of one hour, with only four actors filling all of the parts. They switch between the fairy world and the Athenian lovers seamlessly, using simple costume and masks to differentiate the ever more entangled worlds. The play opens on a bare set, three mirrors facing the audience in an attempt to convey the twisting reality of the text.

With such a well-loved play, creating a new adaptation can often be difficult. Tripped Theatre give a fine effort, but their edits could have created a slicker and more original piece.

Their fast-paced and highly polished dialogue makes the verse flow smoothly, keeping the plot moving at a good speed. Yoshika Colwell, who plays both Helena and Titania, conveys a wonderful mix of desperation and innocence in Helena and a playfully relaxed fairy queen. She never falls into the trap that some of the others find themselves in, because her speech communicates feeling without overplaying the singsong rhythm of the verse.

Often the blocking becomes quite static, especially when all four Athenians appear onstage together. It feels like the actors are sometimes a bit robotic in their movements and could do with loosening up their performance. Although Zoe Biles plays a wonderfully high-spirited Hermia, her portrayal of Puck is sometimes over-considered and contrived. Steward Crank switches between the overbearing and powerful Oberon to the love-struck Demetrius with ease, although he loses some of Oberon’s playfulness at times. Josh Welch achieves both Lysander and Bottom with a terrific comic style, his surprisingly dexterous timing, physical performance and enthusiasm getting the only real laughs of the whole play. He is likeable and energetic, picking the pace up when it lulls a pinch in the middle.

With such a well-loved play, creating a new adaptation can often be difficult. Tripped Theatre give a fine effort, but their edits could have created a slicker and more original piece. Having said that, the mixed lovers scene in which Helena and Hermia argue in the forest over their confused companions is heartfelt, fiery and passionate. This troupe gave this classic play a few new twists and for that they should be commended, but it might have been nice to see some more innovative takes on such a classic. 

Reviews by Troy Holmes

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Performances

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The Blurb

In a circus hall of mirrors in 1934, the lines blur between dreams and reality of that midsummer night. Tripped Theatre presents a stylised and beautiful adaptation of Shakespeare's fantastical comedy with four actors filling the roles of the usual 23, allowing lovers and fairies to transform and mingle magically on stage.

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