Upon entrance into the Great Hall, the audiences were whisked away to another realm bursting with colour, lights and a sense of etherealness. The hall was adorned with stunning décor and props, giving life to the setting of the woodlands and fae folks and transported the audiences into that mysterious, magical and exquisite world.
A smart utilisation of space was executed by setting up two additional stages that enhanced the viewing experience. The seating arrangement was innovative and sought to engage the audiences with the story on a more personal level by foregoing the traditional chair-seating and substituting it with a four-section free seating area on the grounds of the Great Hall. This arrangement went back to basics by reflecting the days of when storytelling was flourishing with simplicity. Back to basics, they went.
UNMC School of English’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream commenced with a pre-recorded introduction by Dr. Derek Irwin, the director of the play.
And the lights went down.
Shakespeare’s well-beloved characters were brought to life by UNMC’s talented and passion-driven actors. The roles of The Athenians, The Fairies, and The Mechanics were brilliantly performed. The actors, donned in their respective costumes and impressive make-up, delivered the words of Shakespeare in full gusto with utmost ease and consistency. Performing without the aid of microphones was a challenge in and of itself but the actors conveyed their lines in clarity. Every word was fervent, vigorous and crystal clear. Jonathan Sim portrayed the character Puck, one of the Fairies, tremendously well, capturing every sense of mischief and energy. Witty, fun-loving, exuberant and captivating are few of many words to describe the performance by The Mechanics as they interact and stumble about together in absolute delight.
The highlight of the play was none other than the implementation of a localised theme to the original play. Keeping within the arc of one of Shakespeare’s most well-known comedic play, they sought to further connect the audiences by foregrounding local elements such as the mention of ‘The Datuk’, ‘The Durian Tree’, and a dulcet version of ‘Rasa Sayang’ sung by the fairies with the accompaniment of the kompang, a Malay traditional musical instrument. The localised elements in the play was most apparent in the acts portrayed by the delightful Mechanics. Lovable and hearty, The Mechanics were donned in local attires such as a songkok and a sarong. They were also exhibiting Malaysia’s very own well-loved slang in their lines, punctuating the ‘lah’ and ‘aiyo’, receiving nods and knowing smiles from the audiences.
King Oberon and Queen Titania were regal and astounding in their costumes, demonstrating the traditional traditional attire by sporting a baju melayu and a kebaya. This intertwining of local facets and the original version of the play was well-accomplished, often sparking response of hearty laughter and applause from the audiences.
From the classy Athenians to the mischievous fairies to the hilarious Mechanics, UNMC School of English’s version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was truly wonderful, enjoyable and unconventional. A spectacle of its own kind.
The play was directed by Derek Irwin of The School of English. Below are the cast members:
Edmund Khoo – Demetrius
Nellie Chan Li – Helena
Ramis Rafay – Lysander
Michelle Beth Chong – Hermia
Ahmad Danial – Theseus
Amashi De Mel – Hippolyta
Daniel Platt – Egeus
Stephanie Njambi Kiama – Philostrate
Bhavik Ajaykumar Mehta – Oberon
Mary Ainslie – Titania
Ayaka Terauchi – Peaseblossom
Julia Katrina – Cobweb
Jonathan Sim – Puck
Constance Elizabeth Regardsoe – Titania
Neda binti Nejim Alasedi – Peter Quince
Nur Ilyani Hashim – Bottom
Shamini Vasu – Flute
Yap Jia Ming – Starveling
Marsya Hazanan – Snout
Cheers to the cast and crew that worked day in and day out to make this play a sublime wonderment for all.
Ah, ’twas a midsummer night’s dream indeed!
Written by : Le Vian
Photography by : Rafique Muzhaffar