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Mechanicals return to form in boisterous fashion

Scott Sparrow & Tinarie van Wyk Loots in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

SHOW: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
DIRECTOR: Guy de Lancey
CAST: Adam Neill, Danieyella Rodin, Jeroen Kronenburg, Andrew Laubscher, Emily Child, Shaun Acker, Julia Anastasopoulos, Scott Sparrow, Adrian Collins, Tinarie van Wyk Loots, Vaneshran Arumugam, Mikkie-Dene le Roux
VENUE: The Intimate Theatre until March 31
REVIEW: Peter Tromp

When I reviewed the Mechanicals show ‘The Great Gatsby’ about a month ago, I bemoaned that things had become slightly formulaic for the theatre company, or at least safe. Little did I know at the time that the group had a massive ace up their collective sleeves. As if on cue to make reviewers look ridiculous, the group has returned with one of the most enjoyable, inventive and strangest Shakespeare productions I have seen, probably ever.

Director Guy De Lancey has concocted something that foregrounds the brunt of the restless randiness and humour of Shakespeare’s perennially popular play to winning effect. A Shakespeare comedy where one actually laughs, and a lot? Believe it.

Almost all of the Mechanicals, plus a few guests, are out in full force and it is indeed a welcome sight to see them almost completely unshackled. That’s not to say that it is one insufferably indulgent affair, or worse, an industry inside joke. De Lancey is far too sly for that. It is instead a wonderfully raucous and accessible production.

Not being much of a fan of the play, I was surprised at how much I was invested in what was going on. De Lancey clearly paid attention to the basics first, as almost all of the language is spoken audibly, something that is hardly ever the case with local Shakespeare productions, and the characters are all easily identifiable and distinctive.

The sense of play for which the Mechanicals are so well loved is on full display, yet there is no demure shying away from the darker currents of the play; you get the sense that the rehearsals must have been a blast. This fully translates to the audience.
De Lancey has made some instinctual and bold choices, and almost all of them pan out. For starters, he has transformed the Intimate Theatre into something at once enchanting, but also foreboding and expansive through the use of some simple but highly effective choices.

His casting is almost perfect throughout as well. Actors like Scott Sparrow and Emily Child, who have been allowed to coast on their personas alone of late, here deliver their best performances for a while and remind us how versatile and just plain fantastic they can be when utilised correctly by a director.
Adrian Collins as Puck is a lot of fun in his various outlandish yet stylish outfits, but also a little intimidating and Tinarie van Wyk Loots projects a regal bearing without sacrificing her naturalness as an actress.

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