“He was not of an age but for all time”, wrote Ben Jonson, a contemporary of Shakespeare’s in a tribute to him in the FIRST FOLIO. This was the premise on which the students of Lyceum International, Nugegoda, presented their Inter-House Drama Competition ‘The Bard On Boards”; which featured excerpts from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Comedy of Errors. While the spirit of the dramatist lives in his timeless works, the simple yet innovative reconstruction of the ‘Globe Stage’ lent to the ambience and authenticity of the evening’s performances. When the audience was teleported over 400 years in time to relive the works of The Bard of Avon.
Ursa House’s presentation of a Midsummer Night’s Dream dwelt largely on the misadventures of love brought on by the foils of man and magic. An inventive devise used by Puck in terms of a prologue from the script gave the performance a clear perspective. The confusions brought on by misadventure, madness and magic justified Shakespeare’s signature line in the play ‘Lord what fools these mortals be’. The bond between Oberon played by Sukith Siriwardane and Puck played by Gavin Marshal saw a connection which was dynamic and propelled the performance with momentum and unity. While audiences do not look to Romeo and Juliet for laughter, party or dancing.
Cetus House’s presentation focussed on the frivolity of falling in and out of love. Camaraderie enabled Romeo to tide rejection. The role was lived with enthusiasm by Anuhas Perera. Benvolio’s charm and Mercutio’s daring, played by Imadh Hussain and Sudeepa Pilapitiya respectively, captivated the audience with their ease and nonchalance. The essence of the story of the star crossed lovers was beautifully staged with Juliet played by Isuri Chandrasiri from the balcony of ‘The Globe’ and Romeo perched on a rambling rose vine. If their romance lacked heat and passion, the warmth and friendship of these two students certainly shone through. Juliet’s sincerity captured the attention of the judges to enable her to win the Best Actor award of the evening.
The Nurse as portrayed by Enaya Prematilake was a fresh and lively interpretation. Pankaja Kariyawasam’s signature portrayal of Peter lent comic relief to an otherwise dark tale. The performance was interesting in the use of a prologue and a devised epilogue exploiting the speech of the Friar in Act 5, Scene 3. For through this confession, the cast brought out the family feuds and gave this performance a chilling close thereby validating the intent of the dramatist when writing this play. The interpretation of Macbeth by Cygnus House focussed on the toxic combination of ambition and evil projected by a powerful chorus of witches led by Sinali Gamage, Rashmi Gunawardane and Thunu Rathnayake who voiced the words of the dramatist designed to reveal the key of equivocation. The strength of the chorus was commended by the judges who gave them the award for ‘The Best Elements’ of the evening’s performances.
If Irfaan Rumzy’s portrayal of Macbeth lacked subtlety, he certainly made up for it in strength and dynamism. Aneega Munasinghe’s portrayal of Duncan captured the benevolence of a King in his sincere and simple rendition of trust. The fluidity of scene transition lent to the dynamics of this performance. While the opening of the play Comedy of Errors presented by Aquila House seemed somewhat daunting, the audience was soon swept in a wave of abandon with a comical presentation of 2 sets of adult twins Dromio and Antipholus attired as infants torn by the trysts of destiny to two different worlds. Antipholus of Syracuse’s arrival in Ephesus sparks a series of confusions resulting in Adrianna inviting a stranger into her home for dinner, what follows is a precipitation of confusion and laughter.
The comic and unwitting mirroring of thoughts and action by the twin Dromio’s was possibly only upstaged by the shock of their discovery of the other. The rollicking response of the mixed audience echoed the verdict of the judges who nominated this play as overall winners of the evening’s performance. Dromio of Syracuse played by Maithree Bogoda established a spirit of adventure by being a lot more than a naughty boy thereby winning for himself the coveted award of ‘The Best Supporting Actor’. The performances were adjudicated by an esteemed panel comprising of Ms. Lilanka Botheju, Mr. Nishantha de Silva and Ms. Suranjika Bartholomeusz. These young thespians were given a chance to relive the words of the all time great and invest in the ability to believe that identity is important in the face of diversity; that it is best to invest in friendship over hatred; that we need to infuse magic in our lives to over power the mundane, to believe in ourselves and be strong in our faith to overcome the negative. For even if life were a brief candle the performances proved fruitful on stage and off for ‘THINGS WON ARE DONE; JOY’S SOUL LIES IN THE DOING’.