A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
by William Shakespeare.
Royal and Derngate (Royal auditorium) Guildhall Street NN1 1DP To 11 May 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm except 30 Apr 5pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 8 May & 9 May 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 9 May 7.45pm.
Captioned 7 May.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
Tickets: 01604 624811.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 April.
Vividly imaginative and forceful evocation of Dream-like experience.
In his Dream William Shakespeare takes characters and audience from the ordered world of courts and law-abiding citizens into a wild wood (= forest) where they go wood (=mad, in Elizabethan usage), unleashing forces of dream-like unreality.
Where a well-brought-up young lady, eloping with her lover, tells him to keep his distance at night, before waking terrified from dreams of being attacked by a snake (ready-made phallic symbol), as the restrictions of her upbringing recede.
Where magic releases desires with the force of delirium, reaching to the root of energy in Joe Alessi’s bouncy Bottom. Where the fury concealed within the silver-haired authority of Silas Carson’s intelligently-spoken Theseus and elegant aristocracy of Amy Robbins’ Hippolyta is unleashed, Robbins’ Titania entering at full pelt with the anger Hippolyta suppressed.
While honest trades-people take to the wood to rehearse amateur theatricals away from their respectable shop-fronts, and thereby uncover new aspects of themselves – Frances McNamee’s timid housemaid Snug becoming a mouse that learns to roar.
The world seems mad, love’s an adrenalin-like rush, and poetry creates the undiscovered country. No wonder the lunatic, lover and poet are linked by Duke Theseus.
Not here, however; the speech is among many cuts (including the ‘wood’ pun) in Gary Sefton’s brisk Northampton revival. But Sefton and his hard-working cast, themselves “of imagination all compact”, express the play’s spirit.
Aptly, things opens with Colin Ryan’s Puck speaking of leading folk “up and down”. This figure of disorder orders affairs, as lovers enthusiastically elope before the onstage house cracks open. Fairyland is dark and furious.
The Mechanicals have limited space in this production, unlike the lovers, with Charlie Archer’s initially respectable Demetrius and Oliver Gomm’s energetic, pointed Lysander literally stripped naked. And one supposedly demure creature discovers an inner ferocity, a chaotic, face-distorting rage, surprising herself as much as others.
For Naomi Sheldon’s characters break the bounds of moderation suggested by Hermia’s elegant dress and Mistress Quince’s Salvation Army-like uniform. And Ryan’s Irish voice, contrasted by his quiet English accent when Puck ‘becomes’ household servant Philostrate, with Jon Nicholls’ folksy score suggests another element of repression released.
Egeus/Bottom: Joe Alessi.
Demetrius/Snout: Charlie Archer.
Theseus/Oberon: Silas Carson.
Lysander/Flute: Oliver Gomm.
Helena/Snug: Frances McNamee.
Hippolyta/Titania: Amy Robbins.
Puck/Philostrate: Colin Ryan.
Hermia/Quince: Naomi Sheldon.
Director: Gary Sefton.
Designer: Ti Green.
Lighting: Richard Godin.
Sound/Composer: Jon Nicholls.
Aerial Choreographer: Flick Ferdinando.
Assistant director: Helen Barnett.