Questo sito non supporta completamente il tuo browser. Ti consigliamo di utilizzare Edge, Chrome, Safari o Firefox.

But a Dream

As soft as a white rabbit’s fur: Edwin Landseer’s Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Titania and Bottom (1848–51). In a down of fur, the painting hanging in the National Gallery of Victoria depicts Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, besotted with Bottom, who has recently been reshaped into an ass, from William Shakespeare’s comedy of misplacement. A fairy queen and an ass, two of opposite realms entwined and for all to see in the fairy dell, accompanied by the requisite fairy folk and white rabbits. In an engraving of Titania and Bottom by Henry Fuseli they too, are encircled by a cast of magical inhabitants, and the print of ink assumes the blush of a rose. To look at both is to cross into the fairy realm. And now I shall add to this Liam Scarlett’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” created in 2016, in co-production between Queensland Ballet and Royal New Zealand Ballet.


Queensland Ballet: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Liam Scarlett


Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, Victoria, October 3, 2018


Gracia Haby

Laura Hidalgo in the Queensland Ballet's “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by Liam Scarlett. Photograph by David Kelly

subscribe to the latest in dance

“Uncommonly intelligent, substantial coverage.”

  • Weekly articles from the world of dance
  • Wide diversity of reviews, interviews, articles & more
  • Support for quality art journalism

Already a paid subscriber? Login

To a silvered photograph of Vivian Leigh as Titania (onstage at the Old Vic Theatre in 1937), her right arm extended, her gaze following its line, Queensland Ballet’s Laura Hidalgo in ethereal gown. From Frederick Ashton’s delirious ass-en-pointe within “The Dream” to Judi Dench as a loved-up, painted in green fairy queen in the Peter Hall film of 1968, my “Midsummer” Wunderkammer continues to grow. Seated in Her Majesty’s Theatre on opening night, I am accompanied by all of these versions of Titania and Bottom. The moonlit forest I entered was a familiar one, and yet it was not. I knew I would meet old friends. I anticipated couples to be spun into complicated scenarios. I was expecting to be as bewildered as if I was also beneath a spell. Fairies, and Changlings, and Lovers, oh mischief!

Queensland Ballet
Lara Hidalgo and Victor Estevez in the Queensland Ballet's “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Photograph by David Kelly

Upon a stage made iridescent by fairy benevolence, Queensland Ballet have brought this magic to Melbourne on tour. First performed by Queensland Ballet in 2016, with set and costume design by Tracy Grant Lord, the palette may be brighter than a glow-stick, but it wears its heart upon its wing. In Scarlett’s choreography, the cast of characters, from Cobwebb and Moth to Lovers contrary, in the few moments they did pause, they did so in a circular formation, echoing Landseer and Fuseli’s compositions. And Oberon, performed by Victor Estévez, sported exaggerated winged eye makeup not so dissimilar to the photographic still of Leigh. See and hear the cymbals and triangles upon his arrival! There are, and will continue to be, many versions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and for them to work, for me, they must be infused with Shakespeare’s own lines plucked from the page: “Our true intent is. All for your delight.” And delight it was.

As Titania’s paramour, Rian Thompson’s Bottom brought hee-haw humour and light-hoofed-ness. Pre-spell, his carefree eating from a sack akin to a horse feed bag referenced the doubling essential to Shakespeare where everyone is someone else in addition to themselves. Enter: Hermia (Yanela Piñera), Lysander (Joel Woellner), Helena (Georgia Swan), and Demetrius (Alexander Idaszak)—“what hempen homespuns have we swaggering here? So near the cradle of the fairy queen?”—and the chance for mischief was doubled twice over. Swan, as the bespectacled Helena, in love with Demetrius, who in turn is love with Hermia, had the finest enchantment of all: comic timing. The Lovers and the Rustics, dressed in picture book explorers’ attire, right down to their neck kerchiefs and the swooshing of their butterfly nets, represented the mortal realm of nostalgia, with Titania and “king of shadows” Oberon in the courtly, elegant fairy realm. And leaping between the two, “that shrewd and knavish sprite,” Puck, a light-fingered prankster “that frights the maidens of the villag’ry,” a shapeshifter who can lead explorers astray, irrespective of their maps, goggles, and magnifying lenses, and a servant to the king who can “put a girdle round about the earth / in forty minutes.” With the emphasis placed upon merry misunderstandings and transformations, down the firemans’ pole slid Kohei Iwamoto as Puck.

Queensland Ballet
Laura Hidalgo and Rian Thompson with artists of the Queensland Ballet performing “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Photograph by David Kelly

With an emphasis upon conveying the story through acting, and the lovers and four lead fairies, in particular, with stars in their eyes and shimmer on their wings, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” for me, rolled best like a line of words and a melody of notes when they danced. It was through dance that Titania appeared a radiant queen so earnest in her love for an ass, and Mia Heathcote as the fairy named Mustard Seed was the incarnation of a flirtatious fairy.

Enchanted time was furiously sped up as the entire cast of players ran hither and thither through the moonlit forest. With Felix Mendelssohn to provide further momentum, conducted and arranged by Nigel Gaynor, and performed by Orchestra Victoria. Enchanted time was suspended, as befits a dreamscape, as Hidalgo and Estévez reconciled in a gently unfolding pas de deux. Neither one pace nor the other fixed for long, just like a lightness of fairies. The four lead fairies, Neneka Yoshida as Moth, Tamara Hanton as Peaseblossom, and Lina Kim as Cobwebb, alongside Heathcote’s Mustard Seed, danced “ringlets to the whistling wind.” And just as Mendelssohn gave voice to the fairies through the scurrying of strings, they hovered and flitted, flittered and hovered. Mendelssohn, in identifying with them, and indeed, all the characters, gave a light, magical briskness to their spiral of flight.

All the inspiration that I needed was in the text that Shakespeare gave us and the beautiful music that Mendelssohn composed as incidental music, inspired by the play. ... this is not a book, it’s a play. It was always written to be performed, to be shared with an audience and that was a huge reassurance. –Liam Scarlett

“While these visions did appear” on stage, thanks to Scarlett’s reading of the Bard’s play within a play, entwined with Mendelssohn’s Fairy March and enchanting Nocturne replete with a fantastical horn solo, “but a dream.”

[Awakens reluctantly]

Gracia Haby

Using an armoury of play and poetry as a lure, Gracia Haby is an artist besotted with paper. Her limited edition artists’ books, and other works hard to pin down, are often made collaboratively with fellow artist, Louise Jennison. Their work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia and state libraries throughout Australia to the Tate (UK). Gracia Haby is known to collage with words as well as paper.



Dream On
REVIEWS | Victoria Looseleaf

Dream On

How do we love Highways Performance Space? Let us count the ways! Indeed, a longtime nucleus for experimental theater, dance and art, the intimate black box venue in Santa Monica was the scene of a 35th anniversary celebration over the weekend. 

Adjacent Meanings
REVIEWS | Faye Arthurs

Adjacent Meanings

“Law of Mosaics” is a great title, and one that would befit almost any dance by the deconstructivist choreographer Pam Tanowitz. It just so happens that it belongs to the third ballet she has made for the New York City Ballet, and it stems from its Ted Hearne score.

Continua a leggere
Good Subscription Agency