A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – IN NEW ORLEANS
by William Shakespeare.
Upstairs at the Arts Great Newport Street WC2A 7JB To 29 August 2015.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7836 8463.
Review: William Russell 12 August.
Into the Woods – again.
Director Linnie Reedman’s big idea for this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is actually rather good – she has set it in New Orleans and has used the world of voodoo and jazz to considerable effect. If there is a drawback it is that this requires the cast to speak with Southern accents and the Lawksamussy Msss Skahlett sounds that sometimes emerge do little service to the verse.
However, the cast play with spirit, even if some of them shout much too loudly. The venue, an upstairs room above the Arts Theatre, is intimate. There is no back of the Gods to hit. In other words, calm down dears and it will work much better.
The problem with the Dream is that it really ends when the four lovers wake up and Bottom ceases to be an ass. The rude mechanicals rehearsing the play about Pyramis and Thisbe are reasonably funny, but the actual performance at the end delays things interminably unless the director is inspired. Sometimes they are. It can be hilarious.
Reedman is not inspired. The result she achieves is workmanlike, but that is not enough, although Sid Phoenix, a stunning Puck with a white skull make-up and a top hat, delivers the valedictory speech with style and manages to send the audience out content, if not with sides aching from laughter.
The songs by the likes of Dr John work well – this is a cast which can play musical instruments – with ‘Such A Night’ being particularly effective as Bottom and Titania get it together.
Matthew Woodyatt is a decent, if possibly a shade too camp, Bottom and Silvana Maimone, a dead-ringer for Gail Sondergaard, who used to slink through all those B-movies playing femmes fatale, is a terrific Titania.
The four lovers joust splendidly, and David Monteith is a distinctly not-to-to-be-trifled-with Oberon. The Indian Boy, played by Tristan Pegg, did not, by the way, seem all that pleased to be handed back to him at the end.
Lysander: Jonathan Ajayi.
Snout: Lowrie Amies.
Demetrius: Ruari Cannon.
Hermia: Samantha Louise Clark.
Flute: Matt Jopling.
Titania/Hypolita: Silvana Maimone.
Helena: EJ Martin.
Oberon: David Monteith.
Quince/Theseus: Lawrence O’Connor.
Mothboy: Tristan Pegg.
Puck: Sid Phoenix.
Starveling: Sarah Ratheram.
Bottom/Egeus: Matthew Woodyatt.
Piano: Joe Evans.
Director: Linnie Reedman.
Designer/Costume: Belle Mundi.
Lighting: Phil Spencer Hunter.
Musical Director: Barnaby Southgate.