Reviewed by Donald Madgwick for The Croydon Advertiser
Almost a sweet Dream
Period and location have no significance in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is a timeless play dealing in magic and mystery; and the Athenian wood in which most of it is set could be any enchanted wood where the fairies hold sway.
Theatre Workshop Coulsdon, whose production was spread over two weekends, opted for an odd mixture of modern costumes for the mortals, but by far the most eye-catching were those of Titania and her fairies.
The play was directed by Richard Lloyd, who also played Oberon. The result in equal scale weighed delight and dole, but I think there would have been more of the former if the director had not himself been so actively involved on stage.
In the matter of Shakespearean verse-speaking, complete detachment from the action usually makes for a more integrated style.
In this basic respect, I found Lisa King’s Titania by some way the best of the team. Her performance was light and full of grace.
Unlike many of the others, she played to the text without attempting any forced or eccentric constructions.
In general there was a tendency to snatch at lines and thereby lose bits of them.
More seriously, innocent words, like Egeus’ “sweetmeats” and Puck’s “amends” (the last word of the play) were seized on like firebrands, causing their speakers to fly into a sudden passion of which the text itself gave no hint.
The comedy of confusions in the wood had a somewhat stiff and restrained quality.
Rob Ickinger gave Lysander’s reactions a jerkiness suggesting a marionette moved by strings, an approach perhaps justified by the fact that he was under a spell of enchantment.
Tanya Allison as Hermia, and Christine Blake as Helena, played out their Little and Large routine, with Simeon Dawes as Demetrius making a surly and crotchety contribution.
The rude mechanicals were an amusing group. Tim Young’s Peter Quince giving especially good value.
As Bottom, Chris Argles shackled himself with a middle-class accent, adopting a pleasing rusticity only in the guise of Pyramus.
If only he could have applied this throughout, his portrayal would have been funnier by half.
All reservations having been made, enough remained to make this a lively and interesting evening.
Paul M Ford
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