A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: Shakespeare (adapted Andy Barrow).
Oddsocks Productions: Full Tour Info www.oddsocks.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 30m: one interval: touring nationwide till 26 August.
Performance times: Mostly 7.30pm but varies with venue.
Review: Alan Geary: Nottingham: 29 July, 2010.
Oddsocks deliver a cracking show.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the sort of play that seems to survive no matter what your third-rate director can throw its way. So when it’s a first-rate director like Andy Barrow you’re likely to be in for a good evening. This one wasn’t just good; it was splendid. Fair enough, it was a take on the play, not the thing itself, but that’s what Barrow does.
In what must be an ideal setting, the grounds of Nottingham Castle, and on a fine, albeit chilly, evening Oddsocks Productions, complete with their trademark pageant wagon, delivered a cracking show.
Having a cast of only six – plus a good-natured bloke press-ganged from the front row to play Wall – meant that the need for doubling, even trebling, up had to be built in as a virtue. It was a major source of laughs. But there were others: silly songs; daft costumes; ad libbing, some rehearsed and a lot of it genuine, earthy innuendo; scene changing; above all, excellent comic acting.
Barrow’s Bottom was outstanding. So, when he played that character, was his beer belly – it came complete with a navel. And in the part of Demetrius he had the audience with him all the way. At the same time he contrived to come over as the wile but incompetent actor-manager, disdainful of his actors, with a sly eye on his audience, the shaky props and the box office. His timing was a joy.
The confusion scenes in the forest, all slapstick and comic violence, were a high point. The play within the play, presented by the yokels, was brilliantly done. An allusion was made but not laboured to Britain’s Got Talent.
On the downside, the fairy scenes fell relatively flat, partly because, it being a sell-out crowd, audibility at the back was sometimes a problem.
The mingling with the audience bit, the thought of which can make your jobbing play-goer tremble, was admirable. In the interval some jolly ladies from the Far East had their pictures taken with Lysander and Helena, and a Happy Birthday to You was improvised for someone else.
Director: Andy Barrow.