- not your usual Shakespeare. Claire Bickers


Not your usual Shakespeare. But nevertheless this show will keep you laughing, even if you’re not a hundred per cent certain what’s happening at any given moment.

The play follows the story of the world’s first lovers Pyramus and Thisbe, the play being rehearsed by Bottom and company in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, rather than the main plot of the four lovers, the fairy King and Queen and love’s misunderstandings.
In this version, directed by Dmitry Krymov, there is also a band of actors trying to put on Pyramus and Thisbe — but the title characters are giant puppets, twice the size of the actors trying to move them.
It’s not your usual Shakespeare but you get the feeling he would have approved.
There’s something for everyone; irreverent, slapstick comedy; a tragic love story; a stage audience ribbing the players the whole way through; acrobatics performed unexpectedly by the middle-aged tuxedo-wearing men; and a dog.
It’s also performed entirely in Russian, with English subtitles on two screens.
While this sometimes detracted from watching the actors, it mostly added an extra comedic layer — especially when an older woman in the stage audience begins telling the actors how her neighbours’ under-aged teenage pregnancy and resulting family drama resembles the puppets’ tragic love story.
The actors capture the bumbling nature of the play’s amateur thespians perfectly but they couldn’t perform feats such as running up walls and balancing on each other’s heads without considerable skill.
And while the plot can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, the actors manoeuvre the puppets — like giant marionettes made of metal poles, wooden flotsam and jetsam, foam, and duct tape — so smoothly it brings them to life and you feel for the two lovers who are torn apart in a Romeo and Juliet style misunderstanding.
There are some beautiful staging moments, with the puppets silhouetted by a rising moon, and some irreverent moments, where the puppets try to take their love a step further and the stage audience protests, but overall it’s original, engaging, baffling, and hilarious.
Just when you think you’re about to get some explanation in a Shakespeare-esque closing monologue, you’re thwarted again in a charming, slightly bonkers way which could be exasperating.
But as Puck says at the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, just go with it and you’ll have a fab time.




Theatre review: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Perth Festival). Clive Paget
A Midsummer Night's Dream (As You Like It). Mariyon Slany

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