Theatre Group TG Dolle Maandag‘s Magical Musical Midsummer Night’s Dream – A Review
An actor dressed as a schoolboy walks onto the stage carrying a heavy suitcase on his back. He wrestles with it, finally managing to lift it onto a table. The children in the audience are wide-eyed, watching as Joris Lehr (Puck) opens the suitcase to reveal the miniature elfin woodland within. This is how Dolle Maandag’s charming version of Midsummer Night’s Dream begins.
Dolle Maandag’s MSD is the ideal parent-child theatre outing. The energy of the Joris Lehr (Puck) and a fun array of puppets and musical instruments are guaranteed to hold a child’s attention from start to finish. But the genius is in the suitcase Puck carries. When opened it becomes a puppet stage with sets that change in a finger snap and travel the audience to an elfin forest, a mountain in Tibet, the Tiesto Tower, the bedroom of Titania, Queen of the faeries, and a pirate ship called the Blue Pearl that sails the high seas. Adults will be likewise entertained. Dolle Maandag’s MSD is loaded with innuendo and modern day cultural references that kept this theatregoer giggling and the ten year old seated next to me asking me why I was laughing now?
The original Shakespeare play has three intricately woven storylines and a play within a play. For you die hard Shakespeare fans, you will recognize that Dolle Maandag has removed the plot line featuring the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta and those complicated love triangles between Demetrius, Hermia, Lysander and Helena. Instead it focuses on the storylines which are the most playful and memorable for children: the troupe of Athenian craftsmen who are rehearsing a play, and Puck’s world; the world of the faeries. For this former teacher, that was genius stroke. The child young enough to be captivated by the puppet show, music and theatricality of this production would be hard-pressed to follow the ins and outs of a version which included Shakespeare’s original wedding story.
Instead the children will undoubtedly remember lots of lovely plot lines. They’ll remember that Puck is sent by Oberon, King of the faeries to find and procure a magic object (in Dolle Maandag’s ‘s play it’s a flute instead of a flower) that will cause Queen Titania to fall in love with the first person she sees after she wakes. That quest turns into a rollicking, brilliantly performed Mission Impossible sketch. And they’ll never forget that the troupe of actors rehearsing a play in the forest. In Shakespeare’s original the play is Pyramus and Thisbe. In Dolle Maandag’s MSD it becomes the very close sounding Pirates and Frisbe and once again hilarity results as the classic Shakespearean story and modern cultural references are superimposed.
What a wonderful way to introduce young kids to the world of Shakespeare and make it memorable and fun. It may be a universal truth in education that at some point students will be required to read Shakespeare; a fact that’s generally met with groans and grumbles. How great would it be to be able to replace those reactions with fond memories of a fun day at the theatre watching a puppet show.
JB Warren was introduced to Shakespeare at nine years old by a very enthusiastic teacher who had the class watching, listening and acting out Hamelt, Julius Caesar, Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and more. She’s retained a love of Shakespeare plays ever since. She is a writer, editor and former teach. She holds a BPE, BED and an MFA.