Last winter (February-April) I toured with A Door Ajar and they’re gorgeous show Thisbe which imagined life for the lovers of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” after Puck’s intervention. It beautifully incorporated BSL (British Sign Language) throughout the production and was a musical tour de force.
Here’s what A Door Ajar said about it:
Fourteen years have passed since the fateful night Thisbe’s parents, Helena and Demetrius, were lost in the woods. The only thing they remember is waking up completely in love with one another. But as their love becomes obsession, where does this leave their neglected and confused daughter, Thisbe?
Cue the prankster Puck and his fairy flunkeys who love nothing more than to meddle with the mortal world. With the promise of solving all of her problems, they lure Thisbe into the woods where it isn’t long before she finds herself embroiled in their roguery. Intoxicated with magic and adventure, has Thisbe gone too far this time? Can she stop her family falling apart? And does she even want to? Featuring creatively integrated BSL (British Sign Language) and with an original score, this play is full of playful wit and boisterous theatricality.
Here’s the reviews opinions:
**** Music is utilised extremely well, with the actors all playing some kind of instrument, these instruments are used to not only produce music and song but also as sound effects, the bubbling cauldron and magic ball a particular highlight.
The characters are portrayed very much as a modern day dysfunctional family, with the task of healing wounds falling to the teenage Thisbe, who appears wise beyond her years. The audience are treated to an in-depth view of her psyche with the help of the other cast members who represent her conflicting feelings…the entire cast commit wholly to their multiple roles, switching back and forth at sometimes rapid pace. (theatreweekly.com)
Fluidity is the buzzword for this production, everything cleverly designed to reflect the intricacy and vibrancy of human life. The multi-talented cast – Rosalind Burt, Joey Hickman, Anne-Marie Piazza, David Osmond, Samantha Sutherland and Jennifer Wilson – slid not only from song to speech but also from the comic to the operatic. Each actor demonstrated the impressive scope of their talents by playing both a medley of characters and an original score on an array of instruments. The inclusiveness of the play must also be applauded: British Sign Language, led by Jennifer, was elegantly melded into the performance. (Burnleyexpress.net)
*** The show was great fun and drew stellar performances from the cast, particularly Rosalind Burt in the title role, Joey Hickman as Puck and Anne-Marie Piazza as Helena. It was also refreshing to see a BSL signer featured as a member of the cast. (Everything-Theatre.co.uk)
Six accomplished and beautifully directed (by Roberta Zuric) performers are variously the trouble stirring fairies in the wood and – very imaginatively – the multiple voices in Thisbe’s head pulling her in different directions and representing a range of conflicting viewpoints as she struggles to think things through. ….Everything is very visual and physical so that sometimes the BSL movements are echoed by other cast members. (SardinesMagazine.co.uk)
*** The company is made up largely of actor-musicians which allowed for regular interspersal of music and instrumentals to add humour or atmosphere accordingly…. nobody can doubt the talent and versatility of the cast… a well-acted and credible sequel to Shakespeare’s original work leading to an enjoyable evening. (Londontheatre1.com)
Roberta Zuric’s lively production makes sure there is always something to laugh at and, with designer Helen Coyston’s cut- out forest and David Hewson’s music emphasising the theatricality of the presentation, the emphasis is on entertainment.
It is an entertainment that is widely embracing, for the signing is beautifully integrated in the playing. However, with this very wide thrust stage and a full house, non-hearing punters should ask for a seat with especially good sight lines. (Britishtheatreguide.info)
At just 75 minutes, the show moves very fast, with cast members switching roles in the blink of an eye (and the change of a hat), playing a variety of instruments – not just on the catchy, toe-tapping musical numbers, but to create sound effects too – and constantly rearranging the set as the action changes location. This is a very physical show, which requires its cast to be on the move (and in the right place) throughout, and they all throw themselves energetically into the action without missing a beat. (theblogoftheatrethings.com)
The whole cast are spectacular,.. The cast switch roles effortlessly to personify Thisbe’s inner thoughts, which are embodied as different characters by each cast member. This physicalizes Thisbe’s turmoil and anxiety to show her frustrations and worries at being unseen and feeling unneeded by her parents.
Thisbe is a deliciously juicy performance, delivered in a multi-layered way using live instrumentation, voice, chant, BSL interpretation and chorus that pulls out the modernity of Shakespeare’s comedy into a fully accessible show. (disabilityarts.online)
UK Regional Tour 2017;
|Thisbe||Rosalind Burt||Director||Roberta Zuric|
|Demetrius/Lysias||David Osmond||Musical Director||David Hewson|
|Helena/Tryphena||Anne-Marie Piazza||Producer||Euan Borland|
|Hermia/Aequitas/Hesper||Samantha Sutherland||Designer||Helen Coyston|
|Lysander/Puck/Koros||Joey Hickman||Lighting Design||William Ingham|
|Mnémé||Jennifer Lisky||Stage Manager||Harrison Brodie|
Theatre Royal Stratford East
The Cast, Doncaster
Pound Arts, as part of Rural Arts Touring
York Theatre Royal
Norden Farm, Maidenhead
Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford
The Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth
Burnley Youth Theatre
The Seashell Trust