Shakespeare Made Easy: The Flute Theatre (London) at Shakespeare Festival, Čortanovci

Milan Đurišić //

The second decade of Shakespeare Festival in Čortanovci, Serbia, started where it left off last year – gifting us with two vivacious productions: Twelfth Night, a coproduction of The Youth Theatre (Novi Sad) and Itaka Shakespeare Festival, and Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented by Flute Theatre (London). Both ran smoothly, seemingly unaware of the significance of the last and this year’s anniversaries. On second thoughts, this is an appropriate way to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Heminges and Condell’s edition, to continue their mission, which is to celebrate Shakespeare’s work.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM For Autistic Individuals Produciton: Flute Theatre (UK)_Directed by Kelly Hunter. Photo credit : Flute Theatre (UK) & Shakespeare Festival in Čortanovci

We shall leave it to the festival director, Nikita Milivojević and his esteemed guest and notable practitioner, Greg Doran to talk about the anniversary come October 2024, while we turn our attention to last night’s delightful performance by The Flute Theatre, who are also celebrating their tenth birthday this year.

They approached the rich text of MND with an ascetic mind – revelling in its musical and comic elements while employing few external devices. There was little change in the costumes as seven actors played all the parts and rarely left the stage. This may have taken some of the drama from the play, but what we were presented with in terms of pure, unfiltered entertainment is more than enough. All credits to the director, Kelly Hunter for the smooth transitions from one scene to another. The actors too went comfortably from one character to another, while the only failing detected might be that some of them played their characters with unchanged intensity of expression. In some cases, (e.g. Jacob Lovick playing Lysander and Thisbe), you were wondering how much over the top their Pyramus and Thisbe performance would need to be considering the way they played their other characters. Fortunately, the final part of MND differed from the main plot enough to make it a fitting climax to the show. It abounded in exaggerated gestures in which the actors still managed to incorporate some subtle humour. While the rehearsal scenes were, due to the absence of Peter Quince, mostly Nick Bottom’s (Joshua Welch) one-man show, the performance before the Duke was an ensemble piece. It was also the time when the stage was fully lit and when we became aware of the lighting. Compliments to the technical staff who used the receding sunlight at the beginning of the performance and unnoticeably introduced the stage lights as the daylight disappeared.

Mercedes Maresca led the musical section with ease, performing her own score, we presume, aided by the members of the company. Aleix Melé seemed equally comfortable in presenting the vocal and physical side of Puck’s actions, while Mohit Mathur held things together with his commanding presence and assured expression as Oberon and Theseus. Carina de Jesus Abi-Saber obviously enjoyed her bit as the Wall after she had already won the audience’s hearts with her chief part of Hermia. Catherine Kay had the most difficult task(s) transferring back and forth from Hippolyta to Titania to Helena to Snug to Lion. She excelled in all four roles (plus the Lion), with her singing numbers among the highlights of the performance. Some of the enchanting moments were provided by the Oberon-Puck duo in their interaction and their interventions in the main plot. Kelly Hunter proved to be a true “manager of mirth,” and we are happy to have heard that play, “For never any thing can be amiss, / When simpleness and duty tender it.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.