Director Adam Morris’s take on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ relocates Shakespeare’s play from ancient Athens to an English country village in 1958 – but the only other significant shift from the original is the unnecessarily gimmicky costume design.
The in-the-round staging works well, creating an intimate setting and luring us into the midst of the fairy fun. Such an arrangement, however, means that one side of the room misses out on some of the action at certain points during the two hours – problematic in a production so reliant on physical comedy.
Still, it’s a merry evening – especially when the four young lovers lost in the Athenian/English woodland are allowed to flourish into hysterical disarray. In particular, Naomi Bullock’s raunchy portrayal of Helena is deliciously entertaining. Tim Skelton’s Bottom is funny enough, but he could milk the humour from his lines more thoroughly. It is a relatively subdued take on a plum comic role, and as a consequence, some of the other actors pile on the ham to compensate.
The insertion of the 1948 song ‘Nature Boy’ into the opening and ending of the play is awkward, and would perhaps seem less out of place if Morris more fully—and carefully—explored the setting and the actors’ musical talents.
To Shakespeare’s characters, the absurd plot of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ may be akin to a dream. But to the audience, this production is a tad too predictable to feel the magic.
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I saw this last night and thoroughly enjoyed this enchanting performance. The music (back to the fifties) and the quirkiness of the characters were wonderful. This Shakespearean favourite comedy was a delicious treat and the audience were enraptured with lots of guffaws and smiles. All in all, great fun!