A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: Shakespeare.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men: Tour Information www.tlck.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 15m: one interval.
Review: Alan Geary: Newstead Abbey: 10th July 2010.
Perhaps over austere; but still a pleasure to watch.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men are back in another strong outdoor production with this Dream.
Again, director Andrew Normington and seven actors created the illusion that we the audience were enjoying the same experience as Shakespeare’s first audiences. Some late-Elizabethan singing sounded utterly authentic – the musical element was important in this production – and costumes and attractive set were in period.
The LCM overcame the self-imposed and obvious problems associated with the fact that they’re an all-male company by the simple expedient of extremely sound acting. There was no desperate resort to comic drag. And since there were seven performers instead of, say, five the doubling-up didn’t need to be, and wasn’t, exploited for laughs, as it often is in outdoor shows.
Diction and projection were as impressive as ever. The weather was kind, but even had it not been audibility would have been no problem. The wonderful poetry in this particular play was allowed to come over.
Nevertheless this wasn’t as entertaining as some previous LCM productions: there were no great fights or fencing scenes for instance; and there weren’t a lot of laughs, even at the height of the confusion between the four lovers, where you most expect them.
The four were well cast, with a neat physical contrast between Helena (Thomas Judd) and Hermia (Tristan Bernays). The former was tall enough to be called “Thou painted Maypole”, the latter was short.
The dyings of Pyramus and Thisbe were comic though; the play within a play made the best scene. And right at the end the magical element was most obvious. The excellent Morgan Brind was back with the company as Puck, and Oliver Pengelly was an impressive Oberon.
This was a commendably gimmick free production, in fact, arguably too austere. But it was still a pleasure to watch, especially in an unbeatable venue like the grounds of Newstead Abbey.
Oberon/Theseus: Oliver Pengelly.
Titania/Hippolyta: Peter Bray.
Puck/Egeus: Morgan Brind.
Lysander/Quince: Jonny Bower.
Botton/Demetrius: Roddy Peters.
Hermia/Flute: Tristan Bernays.
Helena/Snout: Thomas Judd.
Director: Andrew Normington.
Musical Director: Jonathan Yesten-Thomas.
Costume: Polly Laurence.