THEATRE: The Popular Mechanicals – STCSA – Space Theatre – 4K

Image by Shane Reid

Image by Shane Reid

One of the best known comedic troupes on the stage, the Mechanicals from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are made even funnier in Keith Robinson and Tony Taylor’s modern revision of their story. Mixing clever wordplay, vaudevillian sketch comedy, slapstick humour, music, and more, in with the original dialogue from Shakespeare, this show is a delight for all tastes.

A rag-tag bunch of amateur thespians hopes to win the chance to perform a play at the wedding of the local Prince and Princess. Energy abounds as the six performers race through their rehearsal period, climaxing to fever pitch in a final performance of their production. They are plagued along the way with hilarious mishaps, not least of which is in the form of their leading man, Bottom, being turned into a donkey mid-rehearsal.

Under the direction of Sarah Giles, the performances are universally excellent, with the ensemble bouncing off one another at a cracking pace. Each actor creates a character that has its own unique variety of comedic charm while also bringing a genuine feel to the whole dynamic. The comradery as they fight to get their show to the stage will be recognisable to anyone who has been involved in such an endeavour, and this is ultimately what makes this show work so well.

Rory Walker does a brilliant job as Peter Quince, the director of the play within the play, desperate to clinch the opportunity for his group to perform at the royal nuptials. He displays a wonderful versatility – even managing to imbue appropriate gravitas into a recitation of the stirring Act III speech from Henry V, despite disrobing throughout. Charles Mayer is also given the opportunity to display a more serious side to his character of Bottom, delivering a nicely understated change in character once he returns from his otherworldly encounter. This, in conjunction with his antics as the “professional” actor Mowldie, makes his performance highly enjoyable and satisfying.

This is a delightful production, full of irreverent idiocy. It quickly jumps from one thing to the next, keeping the audience engaged while maintaining the flow throughout. It is at once daft, bizarre, juvenile, affecting, intellectual and silly. Mostly, it is just very entertaining.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

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