Brisbane Immersive Ensemble’s contemporary version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ portrayed a twisted tale of love and hypnotism in a flurry of enchanted pandemonium.
Although, it seemed confusing and somewhat chaotic to start with, what unfolded was a delightful comedy of events.
When the show started outside and the performers were all part of the audience I wasn’t sure what to expect.
It was a spectacle like I’d never seen before and truly interactive, with my husband taking a call from one of the ex-boyfriends, who ended up being a main character.
There were story plots, layered hilarious characters performing a play, sword swallowing, dancing, comedy, music and numerous other carnie conundrums happening all at once and building into one side-splitting culmination.
The story revealed four young lovers tangled together by a meddlesome hypnotist to the tunes of fabulous gypsy jazz musicians.
We found ourselves following the characters from room to room waiting for the next unexpected piece of the pie.
Loved the Shakespearean dialect fused with comedic improvisation.
The Powerhouse venue is one I always love, however no air-conditioning in the Queensland summer heat did detract from the wonderful performances surrounding us.
I was grateful for the fans and water, but would have enjoyed it so much more if the venue was air-conditioned.
Overall it was a fabulous, unusual routine that I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend.
I’d actually love to see it again as there was so much going on I think the second time around I’d choose different rooms to be in to see a completely altered version.
A Midsummer Carnival allows you to experience Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream like never before.
Led through a warehouse by a ragtag clan of carnies, the audience becomes a participant in this theatre meets “choose your own adventure”.
I revelled in the complete freedom to curate my own theatre experience, in my own time, wandering from room to room as the performers surround and interact with you.
Time flies in this play, as you will have the chance to join a seance, write a play, have your fortune told, see sword swallowing and so much more.
It was wonderful to see that the audience wasn’t shy, joining in the fun, clapping and contributing enthusiastically.
As plot points play out in each room simultaneously, one may find the plot meandering if they are not familiar with the original play, however, I don’t think this would affect one’s enjoyment whatsoever!
In any case, I would recommend seeing the play twice in order to see parts that you miss!
Well done to the local team who created this immersive, funny and thrilling work – I look forward to seeing more from them in future.
Roll up, roll up, join in the fun of a midsummer carnival at the Brisbane Powerhouse.
Enjoy the delights of the sideshow alley, become beguiled by the fairies and tremble in fear at the knife-thrower’s skills.
Shakespeare isn’t in Stratford-Upon-Avon anymore.
His story of love, drama and mischief has been transported to a hot, sweaty and humid Brisbane.
The carnival drips with sweat, love and farce and is fused with gypsy jazz music, burlesque performers and hypnotism.
It’s an homage to Shakespeare, but it’s not a Comedy of Errors nor Much Ado about Nothing, it’s a re-imagined A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.
The fun of the immersive experience kicks off outside in the courtyard of the Powerhouse historical stores building with a proposal of marriage by a deliriously happy young man to the love of his life.
The story moves inside to a magical circle of fairies, then like a kaleidoscope it transforms into a sideshow alley where the “mechanicals” squabble and jostle.
Throughout the evening the action and drama shifts from the hapless “mechanicals” who prepare a play to perform for the wedding to the interfering fairies who create havoc with the two pairs of young lovers leading to a blindfolded duel.
A Midsummer Carnival is presented by Brisbane Immersive Ensemble, creators of Cluedo: The Interactive Game in partnership with the Brisbane Powerhouse.
Don’t miss out! Buy your tickets now.
The season runs from 24 January to 8 February 2020.
I love going to theatre at The Powerhouse as it’s such a beautiful venue and easy to get to on the CityCat.
This was my first visit to Stores Building. Being held in a warehouse had its ups and downs.
Lovely sitting outside for the first act and then each room had a different showcase and subplot.
All running simultaneously, so a bit confusing for someone like me who did not know the play.
In fact, the audience seemed to be a bit divided.
Those who were a bit unsure of the unusual theatre set up and those audience members who knew the play – they were in stitches of laughter for much of the evening.
I was certainly conscious of how much work the actors would have put into learning their lines and the actors were very accomplished, confident and convincing in their roles.
But the Brisbane Summer heat was almost unbearable and a bit of a distraction.
The cast did hand out water and fans to use which helped. Suggest wearing light summer clothes.
Highlight for me was the free-roaming musicians and the sword eater (something I have never seen before).
Lots of variety with a bit of dance, singing and acrobatics.
It was nice to engage with the actors and feel soo close to all of the action.
It was novel to be immersed into the action – almost like being in a virtual reality game, and would definitely recommend anyone who has ever studied this play to go along and see the show as it’s truly unique and you won’t regret it.
I left feeling intrigued and wanting to revisit Shakespearian plays of my youth.
All of the characters were true to their characters the whole time, even when they came around to interact with us, even when we had 21st century questions for them.
It was great. They really are talented people.
The format is that of a carnival with many things going on at once, which is both fascinating and led to some difficulties for me.
I found there was too much going on at the same time so whatever performance I was watching, I could hear laughter and shouts from the other area of the carnival and knew I missed something that would have been great to see.
Given the nature of the performance, there was no way to actually go back and see what was happened so a part of the story / entertainment was missed.
The only way to catch what was missed would be to go to the performance again at a different time.
That said, now that I have experienced it once, I feel I would enjoy it a second time.
Not only to catch up on what I missed the first time but to further explore interactions with the cast members and immerse myself in it even more.
One thing to be cautious of though the venue – while a great space to fit the performance (it really is laid out well), there is no air conditioning and the current humidity and temperature levels mean it’s a very sticky, sweaty experience.
They do provide loads of ice water and some fans for your use, though if you plan to go to dinner afterwards you may want to plan some time to shower and freshen up beforehand.
There’s a magic about Woodford Folk Festival that keeps luring people back year after year, a magic that stays with you long after you depart Woodfordia with sore feet and sleepy eyes.
I saw that magic once again in my too-brief daytrip to the festival.
If you’ve never been, my simple advice is this – go.
Yes, it’s crowded. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, it’s either dusty or muddy (for my visit this year the sprinklings of rain did little to curtail the dust).
And yes, you’ll achieve your pedometer goal for the day in the first hour.
But the experience is more than worth it.
This year’s festival offers up the usual delights of music, comedy, circus, workshops, talks, dancing, street performers, chai tents, street food, and more.
There’s only so much you can fit into a day, so plan wisely if there are things you really want to see or do, or just wander from venue to venue and find the little surprises waiting around every corner.
We didn’t factor in the long line-up of cars to get into the parking lot, then the wait to get on a bus into the festival site, so we eventually arrived into the festival around lunchtime.
Highlights for me were the Sunny Coast Rude Boys who had a packed-out crowd at their high-energy show at Blues Town, and Sunshine Coast duo The Dreggs at the Pineapple Lounge.
This was my first introduction to The Dreggs and I’ll be keeping an eye out for them next time they’re in the Brisbane region.
And, of course, the friendly smiles and conversations with strangers.
Woodfordia is a community in every sense of the word, and a place where everyone is welcome.
Let’s begin with the meaning of ‘folk’… People in general.
And the meaning of ‘festival’… A period of festive activities, cultural events or entertainment.
Put it all together at the fabulous Woodford venue and you have the ‘Woodford Folk Festival’, a period of festive activities, cultural events and entertainment for everybody to enjoy.
Add a myriad of options to satisfy the taste buds and top up the energy levels, a host of intriguing market stalls to explore, ample places to sit and enjoy the atmosphere and you have the perfect event…
With more than 2000 local, national and international artists, musicians and presenters showcasing over 438 performances throughout the six days of the festival there is certainly something for everyone… Circus, cabaret, comedy, dance, rock/pop, blues/roots, traditional folk, roving street entertainment, children’s festival, poetry, storytelling, interactive workshops, talks and more…
With so many options it is well worth planning your day for your ‘must-see events’ before you go.
There is an excellent Woodford Folk Festival app which includes the timetable of all events and has the capacity to add your ‘must-see events’ to a personalised programme within the app.
The other option is simply to take it as it comes and explore, discover and enjoy.
On top of exploring the market stalls, discovering the Labyrinth and the Library of Leaves, enjoying the roving street entertainment and taking time to sit to enjoy the rich and diverse atmosphere while enjoying a selection of tantalising food and refreshment options, I also managed to attend some excellent performances.
Here is a quick snapshot…
Kasey Chambers – country singer/songwriter
Archie Roach – personal reflections through music and song
Arrr We There Yet? – pirate-themed comedy circus performance
Burundi Drummers – powerful African drumming performance
Those Tap Guys – a tour de force of show time tap dancing
Gypsy Rumble – Celtic and bush dance music
Cabaret – Anya Anastasia, Dr Hubble’s Bubbles, David Splatt
As day turns into night, street lanterns come alight, fairy lights twinkle everywhere and the atmosphere becomes enchanting. Magical street performers emerge, the entertainment continues and the people continue to enjoy!
I left with a sense of contentment of a thoroughly enjoyable experience but also with a little sadness that the day was over… I will be back next year, most likely with a multi-day ticket…
This is certainly an annual date claimer and an experience not to be missed!!!
Woodford Folk Festival… Putting the ‘awe’ back into ‘awesome’…
It was my first time going to this event. It has been around for quite a few years, or so we were told by some of the festival-goers.
Which was apparent as we drove from Brisbane, it was very well sign marked and very easy to get into the right place for ticket collection and day parking.
Everyone person working the festival that we talked to was very friendly and full of information.
We arrived at around 9:30am, which wasn’t too full of festival-goers, it took us around 10 minutes to get our parking space sorted and the wrist bands for entrance.
It was quite clearly marked where to catch the shuttle from parking to the festival and the buses came around often enough that we didn’t end up waiting for long.
Once we got off the shuttle we began wandering around and checking out the various shops and food stalls and got our bearings for the rest of the day. It wasn’t very busy until closer to noon.
We decided to stop in and watch an educational demonstration on how to extract your own essential oils from the various flora that grows around Australia.
It was a very good treat to see the process of extracting the essential oil from Lemon Myrtle leaves.
Something that we’ll probably try at some point, and which reminded me of some simple chemistry experiments I did when I was in high school, some decades in the past.
We then wandered around to enjoy a sound immersion session in the labyrinth which was very meditative and relaxing.
We didn’t mind that it was raining on us a little, it actually felt refreshing.
And then we ran into some friends of ours that we didn’t expect to see but were glad we did. The good part about this festival being so close to Brisbane is you might run into some people you know, and that was a great thing. So we wandered around with them for a while.
The food was absolutely amazing, the toughest choice for lunch was making a decision, since deciding on one place to eat meant you missed out on all the other options. So we ended up sharing a few different meals between us all which was very delightful.
When it began pouring out we ducked into a Cabaret performance, and it was quite well done, great vocals and very entertaining.
Then we saw a bit of a Cirque performance with some very talented and gymnastic performers. It was quite entertaining.
As for the shops, we found some exceptional custom clothing and leatherworking shops by some very talented individuals.
Pendragon Shoes really stuck out with their custom footwear, and it was quite an awesome surprise to see such craftsmanship.
The exhibits really opened our eyes to the high levels of talent and creativity that this part of the world offers.
All in all very happy we spent the day there, next year we plan on spending at least a couple days to really soak it in, and meet more interesting and amazing people.
I highly recommend this festival to anyone, including families as there were ample activities for children to partake in.
Do You Rate It?
Sizzling or Fizzing? Sexy or Safe? Bubbly or Blah? You be the judge in ‘Do You Rate it’
BRISBANE COMEDY FESTIVAL
21 Feb-22 Mar 2020
Use the tabs below to see the results.
The first thing you'll tell your mates is...
How you laughed until you couldn't breathe
How spectacularly unfunny your show was
How cool it was to see that person from TV/radio/Instagram live on stage
How you've discovered "the next big star" in comedy
All about the cringeworthy audience participation and heckling
What did you think of the ticket prices?
Pretty good value
About what you expected to pay
A bit exxy
How drunk was the audience?
Stone cold sober
A tiny bit giggly
Raucous and rowdy
Who did you recommend the show to?
Every single one of your mates
Someone with an off-kilter sense of humour
Someone who is easily amused
Your arch nemesis
Why were you looking at your phone?
I wasn't - it was too good!
Texting my mates to tell them to book tickets
Googling the performer to figure out where else I've seen them
Watching TikToks - the show was D. U. L. L.
To post my rage on Twitter and/or Facebook
If this show was a fruit, what would it be?
Watermelon - big, juicy and made for sharing with friends
Pomegranate - pretty colours, interesting and goes well with alcohol
Coconut - hard to crack but delivered some sweetness eventually
Lemon - sour, hard to stomach and won’t go back for another bite