If you are going to do fairies there can be no holding back, so wunderkind English choreographer Liam Scarlett unashamedly mixes, in this sparkling new production, 110 per cent magic with a gorgeous design by Tracy Grant Lord, an intricately stitched up score of Mendelssohn's music, courtesy of the company's musical director Nigel Gaynor, and a lighting design from Kendall Smith that animates the whole like an ongoing shower of fabulous fairy dust.
The sylphs flit gorgeously through their forest glade decked in exquisitely OTT tutus in paua shell shades, Oberon and Puck stylishly sleek in matching hues.
Safari colours of cream and gold cleverly place the two pairs of lovers in another dimension and their bumble of assistants bear a distinct whiff of youth hostelry.
The fairies, who pop out from all over the multi-dimensional set, are spirited, even stroppy. Tiny Tonia Looker, Titania in the opening night cast, seems made for the role and combines regal queen, feisty partner and lust-struck girl to perfection. Her closing true-love duet with Oberon (a handsome MacLean Hopper) is sublime.
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Shaun James Kelly, stepping up for an injured Kohei Iwamoto, is a cute, rather than quicksilver Puck but still has all the moves. Abigail Boyle as Helena, wins the comic stakes in a chase sequence that makes for a laugh out loud, Benny Hill moment.
And then there is Bottom and his ever-present bottom wiggling in and out of Boy Scout tents, twitching in pleasure during his encounter with the besotted fairy queen, quickly consoled by snacks in the cold light of day, a fool but skilfully played by Harry Skinner to bring both more laughs and compassion.
Scarlett seems to have cast a spell of his own over the company, who dance with an abundant natural joy. The choreography is speedy and sparkling as befits a tribe of sprites, rambunctious for the earthlings and strictly within the classical technique for all, and it is all superbly performed. But there is also a new openness and freedom so each character's personality shines from within, bringing the narrative an unselfconscious clarity with never a moment of clunky ballet mime.
Shakespeare's classic comedy, and its message that love makes the world go round, has always been performed on many stages and in many guises. Scarlett's lovely version, a co-production with Queensland Ballet, will be performed in Brisbane in 2016. It may well become a classic telling too.
What: A Midsummer Night's Dream, with the Royal NZ Ballet
Where and when: Aotea Centre, to Sunday, then touring to Palmerston North, Christchurch, Rotorua and Napier