Our new outdoor play for Summer 2018!
Oberon’s Cure will tour nightly (Wednesday to Sunday) to fifty-one outdoor venues (village greens, recreation grounds, pub fields, school fields and gardens) across the South of England from Devon to Kent from Saturday 2nd June to Sunday 12th August. First night will be at a new village for us, Harrietsham (on the recreation ground) in North Kent, not all that far from Maidstone, and the final night will be as usual at Michelham Priory, near Hailsham, East Sussex. See the full list soon by clicking on ‘Book tickets’.
About the play
Oberon’s Cure’ is based on Titania’s accusation in Act Two, Scene 1 of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ that her husband Oberon has had an affair with ‘this bouncing Amazon’, Hippolyta, and is therefore an imagined prequel to Shakespeare’s play. It is basically about an old man who is not capable of resisting a beautiful young woman. Now when hasn’t that been in the news recently! But he is made to look ridiculous by his inadequacy – and the foolish lack of self-awareness makes him into a sad, pathetic individual. But there is forgiveness, too, as Titania teaches him a lesson and appeals to him to grow old gracefully (with her and not be always chasing after girls). But do we want to grow old gracefully? It is an old story, which people will recognise and laugh at because of its familiarity. There are things to admire too: Hippolyta’s wiliness as she wraps Oberon round her little finger and Briony’s child-like, innocent, but tough, determination to work out the confusion of life and emerge as a young woman. ‘Oberon’s Cure’ is a new version of ‘The Fairy Queen’, which was created by us in 2005, but updated and re-written with a brand new score and design.
The impossibly handsome Captain Theseus (really Prince of Athens in disguise) has plucked the ravishing Hippolyta from the front lines of the formidable Amazonian forces entrenched in Attica and has with the assistance of his corporal, Flatulo, dragged her (bound hand and foot) into a forest near Athens. Through cunning and brute force she escapes only to encounter an ageing Oberon, King of the Fairies, who tries unsuccessfully to seduce her despite his increasingly diminished returns in the seduction department.
Theseus meanwhile has given chase, but is soon diverted by his own encounter with Titania, Oberon’s much younger wife. Theseus is immediately enchanted. To protect her own identity as Queen of the Fairies, however, Titania allows him to think her name is Mrs Cloudberry, actually the name of the poor swineherd Jeremy’s sow. The innocent changeling Briony, Oberon’s ward and Jeremy’s sweetheart, thinks that Mrs Cloudberry’s heart has been won by a human and Mr Cloudberry’s inability to ‘play with’ her must be because he’s pining. Confusion and chaos spreads.
Dr Dropwart, already called upon to deal with Mr Cloudberry’s own problems in the seduction department, is asked by Oberon to find a potion which will make him irresistible to Hippolyta. Oberon discovers, however, that he has bitten off much more than he can chew with the Amazonian queen when she demands of him to bring her in turn blackbirds to sing to her, the moon to light her way through the forest and finally Titania’s crown. Willoughby and Mother Sneezewort, servants to Oberon and Titania respectively, make sure that the blustering and incompetent doctor’s potions cause the maximum of chaos with almost everyone in the forest being affected at some point or other. Even the unfortunately afflicted Flatulo finds love only for it to be snatched away again by the ultimately unassailable barrier between human and fairy worlds. All things lead to the Midsummer moon where revelations and vows are made, lovers meet, and just deserts are served.
New theatre inspired by the Commedia dell’Arte
The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company has been creating original theatre inspired by the traditions and style of the Commedia dell’Arte since 1999. We work outdoors in the summer months mainly in villages and also a few towns across Southern England from Kent to Devon creating strong relationships with communities. We believe in the power of storytelling to bring communities together, giving a reason for people to be together and share in an experience which stimulates the mind, heals through laughter, and educates through thought-provoking subject-matter. Although our style is rooted in a genre which is hundreds of years old the stories always reflect what matters to people now. We also tour indoors occasionally in the winter and it is our aim to do more of this in the future.
Click on the following to read about Pete’s current thoughts about our work.