Drama Production: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
13th December, 2017
The magic and mayhem of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was vividly recreated in this traditional and yet modern version of one of the most famous of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies. From Puck’s opening soliloquy, the audience were invited to laugh at both the contemporary humour of the situation, and to be aghast at the more serious aspects of the play – Egeus’s desire to marry off his daughter Hermia or let her face the consequences: death or a nunnery. Somehow even her disbelief at the lack of choice in the world of Elizabethan patriarchy was worth a laugh.
It would be a disservice to all involved to single out individual performances as this was a slick, well-polished and highly professional student production. However, James cut a very mischievous and endearing figure in his role as Puck; Harry a deliberately edgy Demetrius and Hamish a most regal Oberon.
The set was splendid. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, of course, takes place mostly at night and the thoughtful blue colours of the beautifully constructed and painted forest set suggested just the right touch of mystery. This forest transposed the forest of Arden into a mythical wilderness of misdirected love. Trees magically lit up as Puck used the more modern magic of giant selfie photos on a stick to mislead the quarrelling male lovers into harmlessly blundering about the forest rather than bloodying their male egos in battle. Titania was the majestic and absolute ruler of a cohort of fairies who kicked against her pointless excesses of authority with superbly timed background comic antics which prefigured the play within a play of the closing act. Robert’s portrayal of Bottom contained just the right balance of ego, bluster and slapstick. Charles, a splendidly harassed Peter Quince, managed to keep a lively group of ‘rude mechanicals’ including Tom, Josiah, Hector and Anatoly in loose control and the closing scene of the ‘mechanicals’ play was a triumph with Thisbe’s death scene earning rousing cheers from an appreciative audience for its marvellous bombast.
The production threaded Shakespeare’s timeless comedy with sufficient modernity to appeal to a younger audience and allow the true teamwork of the cast to flourish. An evening of magic for cast and audience alike.