The Popular Mechanicals

26 October 2017

by Keith Robinson, William Shakespeare and Tony Taylor

Original direction by Geoffrey Rush. A State Theatre Company South Australia Production.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the theatre this evening.

Shakespeare’s greatest clowns—the rude mechanicals from A Midsummer Night’s Dream— take centre-stage in this wild reimagining of what might have happened off-stage during the Bard’s most loved comedy. Perhaps the most famous group of amateur thespians of all time, the cast of the play-within-a-play Pyramus and Thisbe, bumble their way through rehearsals, misadventures and sheer idiocy in an hysterically funny mix of verse, song and dance.

Using snippets of the existing text of A Midsummer Night’s Dream along with a gloriously cod version of Shakespearean English, the play exalts in its own roughness, extravagance of expression and frequent obscenity—in the nicest possible way. Clowning, vaudeville, slapstick, farce, stand-up comedy and bad puppetry come together with both witty badinage and fart jokes to create an anarchic and thrillingly unhinged carnival that revels in its own theatricality.

First directed by Geoffrey Rush in 1987, The Popular Mechanicals holds a special place in the Australian comedic canon and is ripe for revival with a cast of our best theatrical clowns and directed by former Sydney Theatre Company Resident Director Sarah Giles.

A perfect romp that promises to lift the roof in the silliest ways imaginable.

Director: Sarah Giles // Designer: Jonathon Oxlade // Lighting Designer: Mark Pennington // Composer/Sound Designer/Musical Director: David Heinrich // Choreographer: Gabrielle Nankivell // Cast: Charles Mayer, Rory Walker, Tim Overton, Lori Bell and Julie Forsyth

Presented by Cessnock Performing Arts Centre.

Image: Shane Reid

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