A Midsummer Night's Dream

A solid and entertaining piece of Shakespeare that’s well handled by its young cast. In Flying High Theatre’s rendition of this classic comedy, the plot of the show is very quickly established: an exiled pair of lovers, Lysander and Hermia, attempt to escape the city, followed by a jilted suitor, Demetrius, and the friend of Hermia who also has an unhealthy love for Demetrius, Helena. They escape to the mystical and fantastical world of the forest, inhabited by fairies and ruled by their Queen, Titania. However, Titania’s estranged husband Oberon has returned and the resulting feud results in all the chaos of the evening.

In a fringe filled with many versions of Midsummer, I would only really recommend this show to those who come for the fairies.

The show looks absolutely beautiful: a wondrous forest meets an explosion in an art studio. This performance has pulled out all the stops to produce an ethereal and arcane design. The fairies look wonderful, with beautiful make-up, and particular applause is deserved for the individually designed dresses for each of the fairies.

Woven into the story are a series of original songs with onstage accompaniment, adding moments to reflect on the story so far, in a really nice touch that worked very well. They were, however, very static moments that perhaps could have been improved with more choreography.

Rachel Bird’s Titania was a joy to watch, swanning across the stage with a regal power and Julia Bird’s Puck’s sneaking was endearingly mischievous. Ceri Baily performed very well in the part of Bottom, the am-dram luvvie, though she can afford to ham it up a bit more to make the most of the farcical part. The choice to make Oberon a voice-over character, represented by a glowing orb onstage, worked well for some moments, and terribly for others; it was a little silly watching the fairies scramble to stuff him on top of the stepladder, ready for his cue.

The lovers were particularly unlovable in this production, as the script-cuts for the expositional opening left them little time to establish their characters before the chaos set in. Demetrius was angry and aggressive, Helena weak and slightly stalker-ish. Hermia and Lysander were sweet, but looked uncomfortable in each other’s presence, and were hard to hear. They all needed their blocking refreshed, as they did variations on chasing each other up and down the stage in straight lines and awkwardly hugging each other. The confrontation scene where all the lovers reunite with the wrong people, was almost violently aggressive, missing all the humour that normally permeates the scene.

In a fringe filled with many versions of Midsummer, I would only really recommend this show to those who come for the fairies.

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

This adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream is based on the dreams of the characters and their worlds linked to the bizarre, magical mishaps in the forest. The lovers, mechanicals and fairy worlds collide and are orchestrated by the mischievous sprite Puck in a visual, musical portrayal of one of Shakespeare's best loved plays. There are dark moments contrasted with comedy and farce but the magic of the dream pervades and will appeal to all ages. **** (BroadwayBaby.com and ThreeWeeks 2013 and 2014).

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