Words by Beck Rowse
The moon hangs outside the Little Theatre. Inside, stage lights mimic the shade of the May night sky. Anticipation snakes under and around the audience’s ankles, locking them in place. You can hear rumbling. Actors dancing steps down onto the stage as though each carried by beetle’s wings.
On entrance, the troupe brings the sun’s warmth back to the stage light. There, in the forest, they begin a humorous dialogue about the play-within-a-play they are preparing to perform. Each actor conveys their character’s body and vocal language vibrantly. Matt Houston’s flamboyant Bottom, Emily Dalziel’s nervous Quince, Sophie Caon’s aloof Snout, Karma Duffield’s fabulous Flute, and Charlotte Minney’s sleepy Snug.
Soon after, the upper class characters of Dream are introduced. Each stepping heel on stage in whirling Victorian steampunk fashion. Tailcoats, boots, and corsets; buttons, straps, and lace. This steam chugging reinvention of Shakespeare’s comedy classic greases the contrast between city and countryside, illuminating the pastoral elements of the play. In Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia and Helena’s escape into the wild, the audience are treated to charming characters and enough physical comedy to induce breath-robbing laughter. Ashraf Abdul Halim’s bold Demetrius butting brows with Rueben Fenee’s youthful Lysander, and Finty Mcbain’s languishing Helena contesting Arlie Windle’s sweetheart Hermia for Demetrius’ heart.
Throughout the play, actors make complete use of the Little Theatre — Snaking around the staircases, fluttering above on the top stage, taking a seat and watching the mechanicals performance with you. Bronwyn Palmer’s commanding Oberon sweeps the stage in every bellowing word, Annie Matsouliadis’ graceful Titania floats as though they were winged, and Frederick Pincombe’s Puck ducks, weaves, and places a cheeky foot into every action. Not to mention the three fairies — played by Michael Leach, Sophie Livingston-Pearce, and Bugs Moyse — who tip-toe and wisp across the stage.
There is never a boring moment in the Theatre Guild’s production of Dream. It is a burning torch of enchantment and you cannot help but feel as though you are some insect of the forest drawn to this flame, flickering it with your laughter.