‘A light romp in the forest’ is coming to Melbourne with Bell Shakespeare’s new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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‘A light romp in the forest’ is coming to Melbourne with Bell Shakespeare’s new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Richard Pyros (left), Matu Ngaropo (centre) and Mike Howlett (right). Photographer: Brett Boardman
Words by Juliette Salom

Bell Shakespeare is bringing an exciting new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Arts Centre Melbourne from April 25 to May 11.

“People will know the show and they will be expecting a certain presentation of it,” actor Matu Ngaropo says of the upcoming production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream that is making its way to Melbourne at the end of the month.  “I’m really excited to kind of blow apart people’s expectations and give them a show that they could possibly have never imagined in this way.”

This exciting new adaptation of the beloved play by the prolific playwright is reinventing the classic story of love, comedy, magic and mayhem for audiences all over Australia. Ngaropo, who plays Bottom and Egeus in the show, says that there’s more to the story than meets the eye, regardless of if you’ve seen a production of the play once before or one hundred times before. “It’s very different and fresh and it’s very thoughtful,” he says. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream is known well for being kind of a light romp in the forest,” he laughs, before adding, “But our production has so many different levels to it. I’m really excited to share with people what it could mean.”

A Midsummer’s Night Dream

  • April 25 to May 11
  • Arts Centre Melbourne
  • You can buy tickets here

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Set in Athens around the events of a royal wedding, A Midsummer Night’s Dream tells the story of four young lovers who find themselves in the forest, entangled within plans of escape, plights of unrequited love, and mythical intervention by scheming fairies. Like all of Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream explores timeless troubles of the human existence through supernatural interference and magical realities. Ultimately, what makes the play still a beaming success hundreds of years on from its conception is its exploration of love – that always pertinent feeling of the human condition.

Bell Shakespeare’s production of the play brings these enduring themes into a modern light whilst still encapsulating the heart of the play as Shakespeare wrote it in the 16th century. With contemporised costumes and a pared-back approach to the production, Bell Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is fast, funny and family-friendly, allowing an accessible entrance point to this re-imagined production that will appeal to everyone.


Despite this being Ngaropo’s first production with Bell Shakespeare, the actor is well-acquainted with the playwright and his catalogue. Having performed in over twenty Shakespearean productions over the course of his career – with one of his first acting roles as a teenager being in A Midsummer Night’s Dream almost thirty years ago – Ngaropo has even stepped into the shoes and performed as the playwright himself in the Broadway hit musical Something Rotten.

After having done a lot of musical theatre over the last ten years of his career, Ngaropo says this next chapter to his career with Bell Shakespeare feels like a natural progression. “It was just kind of a gravitational pull to have contact with Bell,” the actor says, referring to this run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that has brought him across the Tasman to Australia. “It’s really nice to be back working in these kinds of traditional foundations of making theatre. It’s been an amazing experience.”


Even still, whilst Shakespeare is what most of us know as traditional theatre, Ngaropo pre-empts that this production is like nothing you would have seen before. “It’s just so fresh and imaginative,” he says. Speaking from Albany in Western Australia, Ngaropo and Bell Shakespeare are taking the play to Margaret River next, then Perth, and then down to Melbourne. With a range of show dates to select from for the run at the Arts Centre from April 25 to May 11, A Midsummer Night’s Dream will also be travelling to Shepparton, Warrnambool, Horsham Wangaratta, Geelong and Mildura in Victoria after the CBD. “We’re getting to more regional places now that are just so thankful that this kind of theatre gets to them, so it’s pretty special,” Ngaropo says.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at Arts Centre Melbourne from April 25 to May 11. Buy tickets here.

This article was made in partnership with Bell Shakespeare.