Zoom is an unruly medium in itself. We are all aware of this hellscape which has dominated our lives over the past few months. Much of the difficulty lies in its easily triggered technological complications, which are highly susceptible to human error. In Flute Theatre’s magical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream there are so many tricky elements at play and yet, this show is fabulous. I commend their efforts and successes entirely for seamlessly facing many challenges and doing so with nothing but flare.
Shakespeare’s work has been reformed here for a primarily autistic audience and the entire ensemble centres around a single participant who stands in a black box stage marked in a ring of dotted electric tape. This works in combination with the online space. As removed and alienating a zoom room can be, Flute Theatre strives to keep it warm and inviting. Each actor stands before a cool green blanket backdrop trailed with fairy lights in their homes as they join the production in gallery mode.
In theatre, we are never allowed to be this close to actors. It is such a liberty to watch these performers work. They land every beat, never dulling down for the camera. We watch their eyes dart with excitement and fixate upon every little smile. This new format of live video production allows for a live close-up exhibition of exceptional acting skills.
Our participant is the centrepiece of the action. The performers cheer on their every motion and applaud their every effort. The support they exude radiates warmth like a cuddle. Repetition games are foundational in the flow between performer and participant. They loop over multiple times; each repetition growing more exciting. There is something so pure about this endeavour to connect in the theatrical space completely unperturbed by a global pandemic.
This is the most seamless zoom performance I have ever seen and there are so many successes embedded here which are due commendation. The sound effects line up immaculately, an impressive feat in consideration of a streamed format. The singing, while sometimes crackly due to microphone static, is technically solid and rings vibrantly into my own living room.
There are snippets of Shakespeare’s text freckled across the show – just enough to spark the narrative into motion. These little fragments are exemplary of the power of adaptation and such adaptation appears to be a speciality of Flute Theatre.
I am overwhelmed by this company’s ability to adapt to such an unruly platform as Zoom, there are fabulous moments including a fully coordinated fight sequence with fluid accompanying sound effects entirely done through two small zoom frames. The performers celebrate their participant in the most beautifully encouraging manner, and I feel now it is time to celebrate them. As the performance closes in a hazy, sleepy song, we are told through huge smiles, ‘WE ARE AWAKE.’
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing online until 12 December. For more information and tickets see Flute Theatre’s website.