“I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was”. This makes up a small fraction of William Shakespeare’s inherent poetic genius. For the team at Kinetica, the momentous task of adapting A Midsummer Night’s Dream into a rousing fusion of circus, theatre, and comedy is simply another day at the office.
The group’s latest Fringe World spectacular injects a darkly modern twist into this long-standing tale of love, temptation, and power in the Athenian Woods. Here, Titania is a gender-confused, Madonna-esque fairy queen and Puck is a gimp-mask-donning demon covered in ink. This isn’t for the faint hearted!
From the get-go, A Midsummer Night’s Dream fuses scintillating comedic story telling, a visceral visual palette, and sickeningly dark subject matter to develop a wholly awe-inspiring re-invigoration. Kinetica pushes the UV meter back and forth throughout. The skin-tight attire, raunchy gags, and out-there concepts deliver a never-ending series of surprises and grand-scale thrills. From Titania’s crowd-set lap dancing to vibrator/lightsabre slapstick to a twerking Oberon to a donkey-headed lover, this saucy, atmospheric version amps up the already excitable Fringe crowd.
The central story line – revolving around the tug-of-war love-quadrangle between Demetrius, Helena, Hermia, and Lysander – showcases Kinetica’s insatiable balance of plot, character, and performance. As the lead characters fight, frolic, and, flip over desire and attention, A Midsummer Night’s Dream never forgets the story’s more prescient and alluring details.
The Mechanicals – donning overalls and hardware tools here – delivered a spectacular re-imagining of Pyramus and Tisbe. Their performances, featuring everything from spectacular human pyramids to pole routines, alleviated its darker moments.
The mix of choreographed routines, aerial stunts, ground acrobatics, and good-natured humour formed a hearty concoction stronger than Puck’s love potion. The German Wheel acts kicked off the performance in style, drawing oohs and awes from the already excitable audience. The fairies’ aerial silk routines inspired waves of applause, showcasing the best Kinetica has to offer. The cast’s strength, flexibility, and attention to detail crafted an assured sense of effortlessness and control. Hitting each note of its modern soundtrack beat for beat, the performers’ pitch-perfect synchronisation and precision crafted a rhythmically-and-emotionally-assured experience.
The wide range of solo and group performances – utilising the trapeze, hoops, and rope – displayed each artist’s wondrous talents. The four leads, ranging from aerial acrobatics to choreographed floor routines to perplexing contortions, conveyed the original story’s tiniest threads.
Their inherent chemistry helped them pull off intricate routines featuring dance-fights, balancing acts, lifts, flips, and spins. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the top-billed circus act on this Fringe’s roster, deserves the immense credit. The balance between story, performance, and style is the most impressive part of this already invigorating production.
Reviewed By Tom Munday