It’s a bold move to take on any centuries old literature and make it interesting for today’s audience, let alone a seminal piece of beloved theatre like A Midsummer Night's Dream. Stone Revellers have done just that, and the gamble has paid off as the talented cast reimagine the wonderfully funny and fantastical play, with stellar casting and confident performances throughout.
Transitioning between the real world and the invented, the play starts with the transformation of Oberon the imagined fairy king into ruler of the Kingdom Theseus, played to perfection by Tom Waldron – a name you should be certain to watch out for in the future.
Approached at his throne he is requested to intervene in the tangled affairs of Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius played by Beatrice Goodwin, Alec Voss and Leo Capernaros respectively. The love triangle becomes more complicated still with the arrival of Helene Sandy, brilliant played and cast as the witty but woeful Helena.
The developing relationships between the four is made all the more watchable by the strength of the individual characters, who interact and dominate as allowed by the script to provide a really great balance – a credit to the work of the actors involved, with particular highlights including the stand-off between Lysander and Demetrius as they rival for affection.
Centred around a dream-fuelled love story the cast explore their conscious romantic decisions and unintentional obsessions as the interfering Puck, played very well by Dan Leadbetter, casts love spells over almost all of the visitors to the fairy kingdom. Madness and much confusion ensues, as the lines between dream and reality become increasingly blurred.
From the compelling beginning, through dreams and finally back to waking the twisting and turning narrative is kept interesting but made accessible to the audience. Oberon’s fairy land was wonderfully charming whilst the man himself is portrayed by Waldron with such physicality and incredible authority, and is deeply engaging to watch. The contrasting kingdom of ruled by Theseus and Hippolyta, played by Bethany Harrison, grounds the story, with the lovers flitting in and out as easily as the blink of an eye.
Waldron’s Oberon and Theseus command attention and drive the show, but a great supporting cast bring a touch of pure magic to the piece. Notable mention must go to the mechanicals for their hilarious - deliberate – overacting and providing the comedic pulse throughout, particularly Dave Bryan as the enthusiastic Bottom.
A risky direction to take with their first ever Shakespeare, Revellers breathe new life into the classic with fantastic costumes, music and set. Purists be warned that under the direction of Mark Doran and Harri Bailey the traditional setting takes a back seat to a more modern vision, however the result is triumphant and well worth a watch.
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