The Popular Mechanicals

Katie Lavers

Classic clowning shines in this inventive, exhuberant, and irreverent production
The Popular Mechanicals

The Popular Mechanicals image via Sydney Theatre Company.

This piece of physical theatre follows the same model as Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead in that it take minor characters from a Shakespeare Play and creates a new play to explore their lives a little further. In The Popular Mechanicals, the characters are the clowns from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and we follow Bottom and the rest of the troop of amateur performers as they create a new play called ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ which they hope to perform at the wedding celebrations of Duke Theseus and Queen Hippolyta.

In this production directed by Sarah Giles, and based on the original direction by Geoffrey Rush, we are presented with classic commedia del’arte; raucous and irreverent fart jokes and poo jokes, highly inappropriate behaviour performed by rubber ducks, and a hysterically funny rendition of ballet choreography performed by rubber cockerels.

This is a cast of highly skilled performers, who can not only sing and play instruments, but who also can move well, and all have a real gift for physical clowning. The musical numbers are all performed with gusto and verve. Some of these musical numbers are absolute classics including the iunforgettable song about the love/hate relationship between performer and audience called ‘The Monster in the Dark.’

This show is full of classic clowning, and physical theatre with splendid singing and dancing, interspersed with sections of the origianl Shapespearean text, and puppetry with rubber chickens performing ballet choreography! It is inventive, entertaining, and full of exuberance and fun!

 Don’t miss this highly enjoyable evening of performance!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 

The Popular Mechanicals

A State Theatre Company of South Australia Production presented by Sydney Theatre Company
by: Keith Robinson, William Shakespeare and Tony Taylor
Original Direction: Geoffrey Rush
Director: Sarah Giles 
Performers: Lori Bell, Julie Forsyth, Charles Mayer, Amber McMahon,Tim Overton, 
Rory Walker 
Designer: Jonathon Oxlade 
Lighting Designer: Mark Pennington 
Sound Designer, Composer and Musical Director: David Heinrich 
Choreographer: Gabrielle Nankivell

Venue: Wharf 2 Theatre, Pier 4, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, Sydney
Dates: 8 April - 13 May 

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Dr. Katie Lavers is a writer, director, producer and researcher based in Sydney.