AS soon as you enter Pentas 2 at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC), be ready to be thrown off by a man dressed as a fairy called Peaseblossom in a raincoat and in pink flowery rain boots.
Take your seats and wait for everyone else to arrive, but know that Award winning British performer Tim Crouch is in character from the get-go, climbing over seats, interacting with audiences — as Crouch’s version of Peaseblossom would do.
Written and performed by Crouch, I, Peaseblossom is a re-telling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “told through the fevered dreams of a neglected fairy” named Peaseblossom, one of several from Lady Titania’s posse. When Shakespeare did it, no more than five words escaped Peaseblossom’s lip; Crouch decided to flesh the character out by extrapolating from the original text.
The play is composed of a sequence of six dreams belonging to Peaseblossom, each introduced with titles like ‘Bee’, ‘Naked’, and ‘Death’ — all loosely following events in Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The fourth wall is completely obliterated in this mesmerizing, 50-minute play; Crouch recruits members of the audience to take on roles like Lady Titania, or her domineering husband Oberon. Crouch then used these “actors” to push the story along, prompting them with a few lines to say.
It’s risky performing in an interactive play because you never know what kind of audience you get, but Crouch was on the ball. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and shows consistent spontaneity. His ability to emote, improvise and adapt in this type of format leaves us in wonder.
But what else would one expect from an OBIE award-winning playwright and theatre maker?
By the end of opening night, Crouch’s I, Peaseblossom establishes itself as a fresh take of Midsummer Night’s Dream, and to a larger extent, a successful reworking of a Shakespearean plays. It’s abstract, absurd and innocent, propelled by a rollicking Tim Crouch shooting rays of energy — an experience which will greatly reward local fans theatre fans.
And if you loved this one, make sure to harass him until he brings down I, Malvolio — his rework of Twelfth Night!
I, Peaseblossom will be showing at Pentas 2, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) from 17-20 December. For more information, head on over to their Facebook Event page. I, Peaseblossom is presented by British Council and The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat in collaboration with KLPAC.