As swift as a shadow

Magic potion

As swift as a shadow

You know it’s a play by ‘The Handlebards’ and you know, it’s none other than ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, but you are never really prepared for it! Make no bones about it!

When the quartet —  Tom Dixon, Matthew Seager, Callum Brodie and Calum McIntosh — took the stage at Ranga Shankara on Tuesday, there didn’t seem to be any bone in them, excluding the funny one, of course!

The set is outrageously intelligent, complete with camping equipment, bicycle parts, hanging clothes and the paraphernalia. Between them, the four actors play around 20 characters. Hats, waistcoats, jackets and brooms make up for the missing characters. The actors swing from one role to another with relative ease.

As they flip and float,  prance and fight, and excel in other antics on stage, their infectious energy transfers to the audience. Perhaps pedalling through the English countryside with their props and camping equipment explains the agile acts.

Helena, Bottom, Titania, Demetrius, Puck and Hermia; the actors pull all stops on their eccentricity, but stay loyal to the text throughout. The umbrella, painted on the inside, which is the ‘idleness flower’ blooms par excellence.

The fairies, not to mention, are one-of-a-kind with their silly wings and sillier feet-sliding exercises and which these men in colourful knee-length socks bring alive. The fairies, therefore, are sure to remain etched in the audience’s mind for a long time. The laughter they evoke is tough to replicate.

The ‘play within the play’, when the Mechanicals perform ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, sends the audience roaring.  The highlight is when the audience members are called on stage to perform with the actors, in the play within the play.

The ‘confused’ new entrants only add to the tomfoolery, and make the intrigue work better. Whether it is Titania’s moves with her wings or Puck’s animated expressions, there is never a dull moment. The bicycle elements are present in some form or another. Whenever there is a change of the scene, the bicycle bell worn on the actors’ fingers, are rung.

Where there any character missing? Certainly not. And therein lies the success of the actors which brought them a standing ovation at the end. The ‘Handlebards’’ rendition of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is contemporary and hilariously intelligent. Even the purists would not argue that.

Their sheer command of the umpteen lines and the swapping of multiple roles in the flash of a second remains truly extraordinary. In a ‘nut’shell, they think on their feet. And that is the magic potion of their success!

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