Titania – A Solo Cabaret

A really specific, niche or academic inspiration for a show, adapted in a completely unexpected style that still absolutely suits the material with high levels of audience interaction for the brave among you.

Armed with a loop pedal, a cello, and a powerful set of lungs McLean slowly wraps her sounds around you weaving together into beautiful sensations that give you tingles.

Loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this solo-show is an intimate musical performance hosted by Titania, Queen of the Night, a mystical songstress who inhabits a forest. She becomes entangled in an argument with her partner Oberon. In revenge for this Oberon decides to enchant her with a love potion that will make her fall in love with the first thing she sees when she awakes.

These moments are woven together with beautifully ethereal musical interludes, turning Shakespeare’s famous words into sweeping songs that carry you away to running through forests, the heat of India, and the ocean - where mermaids ride upon dolphins’ backs - as Anna-Helena McLean conjures the worlds around you.

McLean is a talented presence onstage as she performs a variety of roles, varying from a small and giggly fairy to the monstrous and sinister Oberon. As a musician, she is totally absorbing to watch and marvellous to hear. Armed with a loop pedal, a cello, and a powerful set of lungs McLean slowly wraps her sounds around you weaving together into beautiful sensations that give you tingles.

As the various fairies McLean performs try and tempt mortals from the path and into the woods, the audience are pulled into the show, handed flowers to turn them into the fairies Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed. The audience is encouraged to join in with parts of the music, improvise trumpet solos, percussion and animal noises. The character of Nick Bottom has a wonderful sensation of alarmed surprise at being chosen by Titania, mainly because it is an unsuspecting audience member, much to the entertainment of the rest of the audience. This adds a certain amount of realism to the scene where he is fawned upon by fairies.

The only points I got lost at were in differentiating between the characters. McLean’s Titania and Oberon became less clear as the show progressed, requiring a knowledge of the script to keep track of. Frankly, I was unsure whether Puck was there at all or whether Oberon was saying all of his lines.

I went into this show expecting to really enjoy the music, which indeed was spectacular. I was not expecting to be drawn up onstage and tended to by fairies, which was an added, if surprising, experience.

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★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

An innovative re-imagining of A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed and created by renowned international theatre practitioner Anna-Helena McLean (formerly a principal performer with Poland’s legendary Gardzienice, Centre for Theatre Practices). This intoxicating performance promises an engaging, funny, sensual and participatory experience in which our much-loved queen of the night plays out events from her past, hosting nightly revels in an attempt to woo audiences off the path and back into the woods. A heady fusion of original music and vocal acrobatics, Titania is the Queen of the Faeries’ tale with an amplified twist.

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