New playing at The New Victory Theater is Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you are thinking about bringing your kids to this Shakespeare production, you might want to read them the play first. This version is an opera, but the plot is a little convoluted. It is two hours long and you might want to make sure your child is willing to sit through this. Also not a lot of it is sung in English and the part that is, is hard to understand. What you get are the languages of Xhosa, Zulu and Yswana.
For those who love opera, these voices are glorious, the musicality is superb and this is a unique version complete with masks and tribal dances. The actors not only sing, act and dance they play the percussion instruments, marimbas, glass bottles, metal oil barrels and drums and sing a lot of this diverse music a cappella.
The show takes place in Cape Town and is performed by the multi talented Isango Ensemble. Adapted and directed by Mark Dornford-May, choreography by Lungelo Ngamlana. The cast is lead by a female Puck (Noluthando Boqwana) the only non-singing role. Now A Midsummer Night’s Dream has become an African folk tale with Pauline Malefane as Tytania the queen of the fairies and Sinethemba Mdena as Oberon, king of the fairies. As the lovers Bongiwe Mapassa as Helena, The wonderful voice of Zolina Ngejane as Hermia, Mhlekazi (WhaWha) Mosiea as Lysander, Zoleka and Louw, Sifiso Lupuzi as Demetrius took the roles. It was the wonderful Zamile Gantana as Bottom who stood out.
For those who know the Benjamin Britten score a lot of it has been redone or tossed out, but the choral sections shine.
Is this for kids? I’m not so sure but if you are looking to introduce your child to opera this is a great way to start.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: New Victory Theater, 229 West 42nd St. until November 8