A Madsummer Night’s Dream … what a performance!

A CROWD of over 120 people, including a generous sprinkling of toddlers dressed as fairies, goblins and Teletubbies, were thoroughly enchanted on Monday July 3, by the open air production of A Madsummer Night’s Dream, in Parque de Merendas, near Lagos. The performance, organised by Phoenix Education Trust, and involving students from its tutor groups, as well as pupils from Barlavento Primary school, captivated the audience from start to finish, and showed how Shakespearian plays can so inventively be adapted to enthral present day audiences.

The play was introduced in true medieval style with a song, Green Trees, written and performed by Maths teacher, Rob McArthur, followed by a prologue to the play by an antiquated, cantankerous Shakespeare (teacher Jok Addison), and his nurse (Nikita de Bruin).  

Best friends, Helena and Hermia, were played by Hannah Taylor and Erica Maia as petulant teenage holiday makers, alongside their competing lovers, Lysander the romantic Bombeiro (Christopher Minards), and a gruff Demetrius, played by Kane Faulkner in a style reminiscent of fast-talking-wise-guy, Groucho Marx.

Elisa Merkens gave a delightful performance as genial Titania, Queen of the Fairies; first appearing as an apparition in white, carried by her unicorn, and trailed throughout the play by her posse of fairies who follow her every move.

Impressive performances were given by Heidi Brown and Emily Price as impish duo Pickle and Puckle, whose animated, sparkling act gave life to Shakespeare’s merry fairy, Puck; gifted Sadie Exley Myers, whose natural acting ability shone through her interaction with the audience and adlibbing as Bottom, the domineering chief of the performing troupe of holiday reps, and oblivious donkey-headed subject of Pickle and Puckle’s pranks; and Emmanuelle Guillon, a natural born showman, also abundantly at ease in character while chatting-up the crowd in his role as the tenacious and smitten Oberon, King of the Fairies.

As night began to fall, the holiday reps impressed the audience with a cabaret of tricks, and the players danced their finale under a ceiling of twinkling fairy lights to the familiar beat of Love Generation.

“There are a few moments in life which will be treasured forever, and this is definitely one of them,” was one comment from a member of the audience.

“This was a project of many firsts,” Trudy Van De Steeg from Phoenix told us, “a first for many of the children who have not acted before, for teacher Karen Whitten who wrote the adaptation with the children and directed the play, for Phoenix Education Trust who organised the evening, and for Parque de Merendas which, up until now, has not been host to open air theatre.

“We are so happy that this evening went so well, the reaction from the audience was phenomenal.”  

And she was right. As the last members of the audience made their way home, the giggles of children who had had heaps of fun creating the show and echoes of laughter from the crowd, could still be heard ringing through the trees.

• Phoenix would like to thank everyone who so generously contributed their time and talents to this event.  25 per cent of the evening’s proceeds were donated to the children’s home in Lagos, CASLAS Lar do Jovens, a group of children from which came along to the show.

Contributed by Treya Chaman