HALF of the cast is made from felt so A Midsummer Mess is definitely not your typical take on a classic.
The madcap comedy is Shakespeare at breakneck speed – with puppets.
It is the brainchild of Kingslandbased writer/director Stephen Lunt and is one of the latest offerings from the Auckland Fringe festival.
‘‘If anyone thought Shakespeare was boring before, they certainly won’t think so after,’’ Mr Lunt says.
Three actors and three puppets will tackle 12 characters in the onehour show based on the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
‘‘It’s a completely busy, farcical show and I think that’s what adds to the comedy because it’s three people doing absolutely everything – it gets a bit manic.’’
Mr Lunt was inspired by the team behind the American musical Avenue Q to give traditionally fluffy and loveable puppets an edge.
‘‘ A Midsummer Mess is a bit more adult than A Midsummer Night’s Dream – the puppets are a bit naughtier.
‘‘There is some outrageous ing.’’
The classic play lends itself to a modern twist, he says. ‘‘I find it hilarious. ‘‘I really like the idea of having the puppet as an extension of the actor’s body and everything they do, the puppet does.’’
The English-born actor is a bit of a dab hand at puppeteering, having picked up the skill through theatre and education shows.
Actors must manipulate the puppets and use their voices and bodies to project the character while holding the half-body puppets on one arm.
‘‘It’s a steep learning process to get to know the puppet and learn the different techniques,’’ Mr Lunt says.
The performers certainly have their work cut out getting to grips with the material on stage but find-
flirt- ing puppets that were up to the challenge was a task in itself.
Mr Lunt was able to pull some strings to track down good quality models which will be used for the play’s three-day run.
Working as a semi-professional actor in New Zealand is a whole world away from the tough scene in the UK, he says.
‘‘There’s a lot more support for theatre here which is great because it really encourages writers and actors to go and get more involved,’’ Mr Lunt says.
Auckland Fringe director Michael Keating says Mr Lunt’s A Midsummer Mess is a great addition to the lineup.
‘‘This year’s Fringe is going to be more concentrated and buzzing and shows like this fit really well into
that kind of programme.’’
Puppet master: Kingsland writer Stephen Lunt is tackling Shakespeare with a cast of puppets in his show A Midsummer Mess.