Reviews, News and Commentary

RNZB’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a totally engaging work set in a land of deception and illusion.

John Daly-Peoples

Tonia Looker (Queen Titania) and Harry Skinner (Bottom)

Ryman Healthcare Season  of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Royal New Zealand Ballet

National Tour October 28 – December 11

Next month the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) will launch their Christmas season  of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This production created by British choreographer Liam Scarlett was originally staged in 2015 and presented again in 2016 receiving received universal praise. The co-production between the Royal New Zealand Ballet and Queensland Ballet. has also been performed in Queensland and Hong Kong.

RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker says, “At the end of another COVID year, we will again celebrate the power and beauty of the arts. Performing this magical production, to Mendelssohn’s sumptuous score, is a Christmas treat for audiences everywhere.”

“This special work was made for our company by a choreographer whose talent, energy and sheer delight were contagious. Creating this work with Liam was among the happiest of times for our company. His A Midsummer Night’s Dream has stood the test of time – it is in our DNA. We cherish this production and will honour Liam’s memory and his beautiful artistic legacy with every sparkling step,” Barker says.

New Zealand designer Tracy Grant Lord’s vision of Shakespeare’s iconic characters and enchanted wood, illuminated with lighting by Kendall Smith complements former RNZB Music Director Nigel Gaynor’s beautifully crafted full-length ballet score, drawn from Mendelssohn’s much-loved incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and interspersed with orchestral arrangements of the composer’s works for solo piano and chamber music, and featuring other orchestral works including the atmospheric overture ‘The Hebrides’.

In  2016 I reviewed the RNZB’s production writing that

“The audience was transported to the enchanted kingdom of Oberon and Titania with its myriad of fairies created by Shakespeare and reinvented by the Royal New Zealand Ballet.”

“Choreographer Liam Scarlett has created a ballet which is a total artwork, drawing on the talents of lighting designer Kendall Smith and the costumes and set designs of Tracy Grant Lord providing the colours and textures of Midsummer where shadow and bluish half-light hide and disguise.”

“This was a totally engaging and compelling work with a production bringing out all the themes of love, passion, infatuation, jealousy and reconciliation set in a land of deception and illusion.”

“The ballet’s comedy of errors is set in train when the King of Fairyland, Oberon, with his helpful sprite, Puck, attempt to change the course of true love, resulting in several of the characters falling in love for another, having had a magical juice dropped into their eyes. One of these new romances develops between Oberon’s Queen Titania and a local rustic, Bottom, whom Puck has given a donkey’s head.”

“Liam Scarlett’s creative and imaginative direction can be seen in the way he was able to integrate costumes, lighting and set in a miasma of silvery blue, which provided a real sense of a mythical fairy kingdom.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream season

Wellington | 28 October to 31 October | Opera House
Napier | 5 November to 6 November | Municipal Theatre
Palmerston North | 11 November | Regent on Broadway
Christchurch | 18 November to 20 November | Isaac Theatre Royal
Invercargill | 24 November | Civic Theatre
Dunedin | 27 November | Regent Theatre
Auckland City | 2 December to 5 December | Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre
Takapuna | 10 December to 11 December | Bruce Mason Centre

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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