22 March 2011
This drama is one of the great comedy plays by William Shakespeare. The play revolves around the adventures of four young lovers, a group of amateur actors and their interactions with the fairies who inhabit a moonlit forest. The story takes place in Midsummer and is a complex farce featuring Hermia & Lysander and Helena & Demetrius. Their romantic intrigues are confused and complicated still further by entering the forest where Oberon, the King of the Fairies and his Queen, Titania, live.
The People's Theatre took on a massive challenge with the placing of A Midsummer Night's Dream in it's listings, it was something that I was looking forward to very much. I didn't know if the production was going to be a contemporary twist of the original play, but I soon knew from the entrance of the players that this was as original as Shakespeare would have liked.
I was totally blown away by the acting on offer tonight, the 30 strong cast to a man (or woman) pulled out all the stops to showcase their talent and made the Shakespeare lovers in the crowd drool for more. It was so exhilarating to see this pantomime (and I say that in such a good way!) of The Bards performed so successfully by the fantastic local talent of the region.
The wonderful stage presence of the actors was only complimented by the super directional skills of Dolores Poretta Brown, who I last saw as the brilliant Queen in The Lion in Winter at South Shields Westovians. She must have had her hands full with this one, so many complicated parts intertwined within the play, that if she or the actors took their eyes off the ball for even a split second then it could have quite easily have become a disaster scene. Total respect for what they have achieved.
The staging was a fantastic mix of minimalist but clever scenery, again Dolores was spot on with her open design of forest landscape and Athenian scenes. The sound hit all of the right notes, with various bytes coming through superbly. None of the actors were mic'd up and bellowed very well to be heard. The lighting was executed very well, with very atmospheric scenes being created.
I cannot thank or praise all of the actors in this review as I would have to write a book, but my top three were Keith Wigham, David Race and Lauren Breese. Keith who played both Bottom and Pyramus put on a 'normal' superb performance, he is certainly no 'ass' in this role. David was amazing as 'Puck', his prancing and role-play on the stage was a joy to behold, I really look forward to seeing him in other demanding roles. The lovely Lauren as Hermia smouldered her way into the hearts of the audience, word perfect and vibrant.
At the age of 42, I am either falling in love with Shakespeare or more sensibly the fantastic actors that grace the stage performing it. This play is a must see for all officinardos of Shakespeare and of great acting. I don't normally give star rating's, but this has to be five..all day.
A midsummer Night's Dream is playing until 26th March.