The Chyngton Youth Academy made up of 11 to 15 year olds performs this seasonal Shakespeare favourite with enthusiasm and fervour. The interlude to the performance shows us an impressive piece of film footage that encapsulates the warring inhabitants of Athenians — whether they are the courts of Theseus and the reluctant Hippolyta, the servants of Oberon and Titania, or the lovers, continuously sniping. It sets the tone, relaying to the audience that this performance is one of conflict and confusion that must be resolved.
Emily Burgman wonderfully portrays Helena’s grievances towards her unrequited love and an erupting jealousy to the desirable Hermia. Her portrayal of Helena reacting to the simultaneous love of Lysander and Demetrius conveys the essence of midsummer hilarity and madness that make A Midsummer Night’s Dream so deliciously charming. Jessica and Towner and Callum Wright performing the roles of Titania and Oberon respectively, create a fantastic sphere of passion marred with conflict as they plot against one another in pursuit of the Changeling Child. Their intimate trysts where they reminiscence of simpler, more peaceful times, implode into anger as neither one of them will agree to give up the child. Their performances are a testimony to the talents of young children, and are a commendable exhibition of direction.
The hilarities of midsummer repose are best conveyed however, by the workmen and women of the court of Athens. Marianne Beard leads the Mechanicals and displays Quince’s failed attempt of creating a tragic-comedy theatrical debut worthy of the court of Athens. Beard’s mixed portrayal of exasperation with the Mechanicals, terror at Bottom’s ass-face and ignorance of one’s own disastrous play reminded the audience of the comical charm that is an important ingredient of midsummer magic.
I do question the company’s decision to perform Shakespeare. Some killer comedy lines were evidently lost on young actors as they tried merely to remember and exclaim their lines amidst the confusion of centuries-old syntax. Nevertheless, the performance demonstrates the budding talents and charismas of young people, and it is fantastic to see youth actors immersing themselves in the world of Shakespeare, though you could find yourself aching for the abilities of older, more experienced performers.