You wonder if all of the performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream, or any of the Bard's plays for that matter, were counted up, what the number would be now. Rather high I expect.
Needless to say it's rather difficult to bring originality to the table. Here to There Productions bring originality and much more in this cleverly reimagined version of this 420-year-old classic.
Part of the company's 1595 season, which features a parallel production of Romeo and Juliet, the company have fiddled with the numbers in the year these plays were thought to have been written to locate the stories in 1955.
The somewhat labyrinthine story, or rather four stories, portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus (Lewis Jones), the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta (Adaya Henry). We follow the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors called the mechanicals, who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set.
It is clear from the outset the company possesses a number of very talented actors whose stage presence and delivery are ideal for Shakespeare's prose.
The standard of acting is high across the board. There are too many characters to list but a number of stand out performances include Lauren Winwood as Hermia, who is in love with Lysander (Alexander Macdonald-Smith) but is being forced to marry Demetrius (Liam Alexandru) by her father Egeus (Ewen Gibb). Winwood is excellent as Hermia with a very strong stage presence. Macdonald-Smith captures the romantic Lysander beautifully and Helena Devereux shines too as the feisty Helena, who pines after Demetrius.
Morgan Rees-Davis impresses as the king of the fairies Oberon, his deep, smooth delivery bringing out the best in Shakespeare's rich text. Meanwhile Bexie Archer as his mysterious and sensual queen Titania also impresses.
Elsewhere Andrew Whittle has great timing and leads his scenes very well as the piece's most iconic character, Nick Bottom - the lead among the players within the play. He is well supported by his fellow players.
Some clever lighting and staging add to the action nicely and help mark out each sub plot in turn. The costumes are well chosen with the Steampunk element particularly effective.
As the plot unfolds and the mortals stumble unwittingly into the realm of the fairies, the cast do well with Shakespeare's comedy and the pace, on the whole, was very good. Well done to director Carl Walker and his team on a brave and well-executed production.
A special mention must be given to the way this show and Romeo and Juliet have been packaged and promoted. This and the live-streaming element of the performance gave the productions a professional feel and shows the society is more than tuned in to the challenge and opportunity modern performances of Shakespeare present.
An excellent production… at least it seemed that way, perhaps it was all just a dream.
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