BWW Reviews: ADELAIDE FRINGE 2015: SHAKESPEARE FOR KIDS: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM Is No Ordinary Romp in the Woods
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Wednesday 11th February 2015
Based on Charles and Mary Lamb's adaptations, Tales From Shakespeare, Shakespeare for Kids offers two of Shakespeare's plays in separate performances, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet. Presented by the Holden Street Theatre Company and the Recycled Theatre Company, both are directed by Martha Lott, who also takes the role of the narrator and, on this occasion, A Midsummer Night's Dream was the play being presented.
The cast of five appear, dressed in loose, simple white trousers and jackets, looking like a Commedia del Arte troupe, and there is a strong influence of that genre in this very comical piece. They begin as children, with Lott trying hard to read the introduction, helped, or hampered by the others. Transiting into adults, the parts are read out and the other four call out to play as many as they can. Then, it is into the play, with madcap role changing and some very funny and innovative ways of covering roles when there are not enough actors to go around, but that is for you to discover when you attend.
Nic Krieg, Joanna Webb, Hjalmar Svenna, and Amy-Victoria Brooks are the performers who join with Martha Lott in this high energy production, running in all directions grabbing props and switching accessories worn over their white outfits to delineate the diverse array of characters, like children dressing up in adults' clothes. There are many great individual moments for each of the players, but this is an ensemble piece and it is the collaboration and interactions that make it work so well, keeping the audience laughing throughout.
If you think that a narrator has an easy job, just standing around and explaining the narrative, think again. Martha Lott is just as involved and as busy as the rest of them, also playing a few characters, as well as taking charge of many of the props. Nobody gets a chance to take a breather during this show.
This is Shakespeare as you probably have never seen it before, trimmed of side stories, some simplified language where the Bard's would not be understood by younger members of the audience, and with much added laughter.
Although billed as being for kids, there is plenty to keep the adults interested, too, so make it a family day out.