Written in another world and brought to life with its essence honoured to its core, Beech Bahar ki Raat ka Sapna, one of the most famous Shakespearean play was staged at NAPA. If you haven’t yet figured out the original name of the play, then to my readers’ fondness, it is one of the most renowned comedies tied together with mystic, romance and wit, Midsummer Night’s Dream. A more complex play with a Athens, a supernatural world and plots running in parallel, I was a little sceptic about how this could be executed on stage. Oh, how we underestimate our grip on art.

Astonished by the direction, transfixed at the poise and astounded at how brilliantly executed the show was, I walked out in the breezy winter night thoroughly satisfied at the Urdu adaptation of my favourite Shakespearean works. Minimally adorned stage to mimic the dense of the forest, the play opens with a father distressed by his daughter’s romantic rebellion. A story of lovers’ quarrels, young actors bring to life the four Athenian lovers tumbling through the forest in the dark of the night guided blindly by love, self-loathing and rage.

In a parallel plot, fairies make an entrance with LED lights adorned at the hems of their capes; fluid dance moves to induce a trance, they keep your attention. In comes Puck, with his brilliant dialogue delivery and brimming enthusiasm dancing among the fairies. In the background, “human trees” ruffle with fluidity to match and in the rest of the act, they make their presence known with well-coordinated echoes of the dialogues to identify between the real and the supernatural characters.

Gulnaar, played by Mariya Saad – bold, complacent and authoritative – Saad brings the queen of the fairies to life brilliantly, as she shares the stage with her male counterpart, my eyes refuse to focus on anything except her. The fairyland was performed under coloured lights with live drumming in the background, amplifying the effect that Gulnaar left on her audience. In a dual role, as Razmita, The Athenian Queen and the fairy queen, Saad executes both her characters with unshaken composure. Another character that won splendidly with me was his Kingship, also a dual role as King of Athens and fairyland, Saad Zameer’s voice stands out in his acting skill set. Baritone when needed, echoed with rage in his fury and in complete contrast, gentle and motivating as King Tabrez, Saad Zameer’s acting was gripping. Between Mariya Saad and Saad Zameer, my attention was in a tug of war, stunned at the sheer brilliance of the two.

Puck, played by Hammad Khan was another character that was very well adapted. His enthusiasm raw and cardio-equivalent movements on stage were a treat. Khan’s acting skills and body language speak for themselves. Theatre has been the first stepping stone for many actors; I won’t be surprised to see Hammad Khan making his way to the screen, one standing ovation at a time.

If I were to point out where the rendition fell short, the non-uniformity in the names of the character stands out. Many names were altered from the original play with homegrown first names, while others honoured the origin of the play. Another mistake (perhaps this is what it was) that makes you raise your eyebrows was a graphic T-shirt and shorts on the lead from the theatre troupe. Imagine my surprise on seeing a Los Angeles shirt amongst tattered rags. While some costumes were so well designed, others seemed like an afterthought.

Like in the original, the “rude mechanicals” (the amateur theatre troupe) finally present their play to the wedded royals, the skit tweaked to fit local sense of humour so well. The band had the audience roaring with laughter. I did think the parts of it were a little dragged, but the audience loved it. It gave the play that huge punch of entertainment making it a family watch and a worthy comedy.

For the final bow, as lovers rejoiced together in matrimony, Puck comes forward and says poetically in his exquisite diction, “If there were any shortcomings, forgive us. We’ll learn with time and hone our craft. And we shall keep returning to the stage;” bringing light to the fact that NAPA is an underfunded institution and Pakistan needs constant reminders of why the arts are integral to the society.

The performance, sound and lights did not falter even once; the auditorium once again full beyond capacity with stairs doubling as seats. Under Syed Meesam Naqvi’s direction, Midsummer Night’s Dream will be remembered as Beech Bahar ki Raat ka Sapna.