Fuzzy fairies and fun

The Han­dle-Bards shake up the com­edy an­gle from a Shake­speare favourite.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - Re­view by DI­NESH KU­MAR MAGANATHAN star2@ thes­tar. com. my

FOR­GET about elab­o­rate cos­tumes, stun­ning set pieces and the fan­tas­ti­cal realm of the fairies. The Han­dle-Bards prove all that you need to stage a spec­tac­u­lar Shakesperean com­edy is high- oc­tane en­ergy and ut­ter play­ful­ness.

The Bri­tish theatre com­pany’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream, now on at the PJ Life Arts, Jaya One in Pe­tal­ing Jaya, is a side- split­ting ex­pe­ri­ence from-start to fin­ish.

A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream is pre­sented by Gard­ner & Wife Theatre and will play un­til March 13.

This is the Han­dle-Bards’ first Malaysian visit. This bunch has trav­elled – by bi­cy­cle – the length and breadth of Bri­tain, to per­form Shake­speare’s plays. But the ac­tors did not cy­cle all the way to this part of the world car­ry­ing props, cos­tumes and all the other stage equip­ment ( about 100kg).

Lo­gis­tics did not per­mit the Han­dle-Bards a chance to brings its pedal power here. But it didn’t for­get its the­atri­cal charm and wit.

What is great about the Han­dle-Bards, com­pris­ing Matt Seager, Calum Hughes McIn­tosh and co- founders Cal­lum Brodie and Tom Dixon, is its in­fec­tious spirit on stage. All of the mem­bers are in their mid 20s.

The Han­dle-Bards, formed in 2013 in Bri­tain, fin­ish off its whirl­wind Asian tour in Kuala Lumpur this month. It vis­ited places like Ban­ga­lore, In­dia, Sin­ga­pore and Myan­mar in re­cent weeks.

All the group’s farce and fun on stage, no mat­ter how lu­di­crous, re­ally makes for good en­ter­tain­ment.

By no means is this a lack of re­spect to the Bard’s work. Far from it.

The Han­dle-Bards have the zest for all things Shake­speare. While re­main­ing true to the text and the plot, the ac­tors em­ploy over- the- top an­tics and worked them to their ad­van­tage.

This writer was ut­terly amazed at how th­ese four young men seam­lessly slipped in and out of the 21 char­ac­ters and still main­tained the mo­men­tum of the show! The en­ergy never dropped dur­ing this school night show on Mon­day.

In fact, it took a force of its own, so much so you will not find your­self reach­ing for your smart­phone or won­der­ing off be­tween the lines.

As the sta­ge­side story goes, A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream cen­tres around four lovers, Her­mia, He­lena, Demetrius and Lysander. Then there’s Oberon and Ti­ta­nia, the king and queen of the fairies. Con­fu­sion en­sues af­ter Oberon med­dles with the Athe­nian lovers’ lives.

Each ac­tor brings his own charm to the stage, wow­ing the au­di­ence with their larger- than- life per- son­al­i­ties, lyri­cal voices and their utt ter love for Shake­speare.

McIn­tosh is most fun to watch as thee fairy queen Ti­ta­nia.

Where one would ex­pect a re­gal an nd more com­posed por­trayal of Tit ta­nia ( think Cate Blanchett as La ady Gal­adriel in The Lord Of The Rin ngs saga), McIn­tosh com­pletely tur rns the role around, mak­ing Tit ta­nia a show­biz diva.

Ac­tu­ally, the best and most solid pa arts of the show are in fact the faiir-ies. Each of them, from Oberon to Puck, have their own set of moove-ments. Yes, never a dull mo oment on stage. The move­ments ar e silly and ex­ager­ated, from Ob beron’s grand bal­let steps to Pu uck’s hi­lar­i­ous shimmy shakes.

It’s also cute when the fairies talk to each other, and move about in goofy dance- like man­ner.

Ul­ti­mately, the Han­dle-Bard’s ver­sion of A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream is not for Shake­speare purists. But if you’re look­ing for a knee- slap­per, some­thing straightup fun, this is the show for you.

A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream is on un­til March 13 at PJ Live Arts Cen­tre in Pe­tal­ing Jaya, Se­lan­gor. It’s on at Pe­nang-Pac, Straits Quay, Pe­nang on March 11. For tick­ets, call 03- 7960 0439 or visit www. tix. my ( PJ Life Arts) and call 04- 899 1722 or visit www. tick­etpro. com. my ( Pe­nang-Pac). For more info, visit www.gard­nerand­wife.com.

— IBrAhIM MO­htAr/ the Star

the han­dle­bards ( from left) Matt Seager, tom Dixon, Calum hughes McIn­tosh and Cal­lum Brodie slip in and out of their mul­ti­ple roles ef­fort­lessly in A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream.

Dixon ( left) and Brodie play lovers Lysander and her­mia.

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