From a Romeo & Juliet ballet to Macbethian Punch & Judy puppet witches, a King Lear battle rap to Beatrice and Benedick rock bands, this is slapstick theatre at its best as that daring but goofy troupe of thespians from A Midsummer Night’s Dream – The Mechanicals take audiences on an uproarious journey through all the Bard’s best bits.
Glenn Elston’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s canon is designed to have the audience in stitches. Full of surprises, misunderstandings, blunders and comic wit – this production cracks open Shakespeare and infuses it with wildly exciting scenarios.
“Working back from the Mechanicals’ ultimate goal of wanting to please the Duke and Duchess with their choice of play gave us a lot of scope to work through Shakespeare’s canon,” says Director Glenn Elston. “The show covers ten different Shakespearian works (including a sonnet) and draw on a riotous medley of theatrical styles, from opera to cabaret to Commedia Dell’Arte.”
“It has been a huge hit both with our loyal Shakespeare audiences as well as young people and others who are new to Shakespeare,” Elston added.
The cast includes ASC comedy kings Kevin Hopkins (Melbourne Theatre Company, Blue Heelers) as Peter Quince, Anthony Rive (Aardvark Pub Theatre, ASC’s The Comedy of Errors) as Francis Flute and Hugh Sexton (Ghost Rider, The Wedding Party, Neighbours) as Robin Starveling.
They are joined by Scott Jackson as Tom Snout, who stole the show as a devilishly funny Mercutio, and has been making audiences guffaw for four years. After commanding the stage in last summer’s As You Like It, West End performer Mark Dickinson (Les Miserables, South Pacific, Guys and Dolls) returns to play Snug. Making his Shakespeare in the gardens debut is Andrew ‘Hondo’ Hondromatidis (South Pacific, Underbelly: Squizzy) as the loveable Nick Bottom.
The Mechanicals transform into heightened versions of histories most famous characters – Romeo, Juliet, Hamlet, Ophelia, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, Beatrice, Benedick and many, many more. Each character has their own ideas about which play to present for the Duke, with endless comedy coming from their theatrical battles and clashes of egos.
Every summer Melbourne’s iconic Royal Botanic Gardens are a hive of activity with thousands of visitors enjoying Glenn Elston’s Shakespeare Under the Stars and the family favourite, The Wind in the Willows. Since its inception, the company has played to over a million people nationally with critically acclaimed annual summer seasons, indoor shows, concerts, plays and indigenous festivals.
Shakespeare’s Best Bits
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne (Enter through Observatory Gate on Birdwood Avenue)
Season: 18 December 2015 – 12 March 2016
Bookings: (03) 8676 7511 or online at: www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au
For more information, visit: www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au for details.
Image: Shakespeare’s Best Bits (supplied)