by William Shakespeare.

Everyman Theatre 5-11 Hope Street L1 9BH To 18 April 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm except 1, 15 Apr 5.30pm no performance 3, 6 Apr. Mat 1.30pm 31 Mar, 9, 16 Apr, Sat 2pm.
Audio-described 31 Mar 7.30pm.
Autism-friendly 15 Apr.
Captioned 18 Apr 2pm.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.

TCKETS: 0151 709 4776.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 March.

Well met by spotlight.
Trade must have been good in ancient Athens, judging by the robust physiques of these tradesmen. It’s easy to imagine them sitting-down to civic and commercial dinners through the year. Only Andrew Schofield’s tidy Peter Quince, marshalling them to dramatic action in the play of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, which they rehearse and present for the local royal marriage, is a tidy figure, who eventually gives-up on setting them right over the pronunciation of “Nina’s tomb”

Schofield’s excellent in gradating the silent objections to his cast’s mispronunciation; you have to watch, but it’s all there, tracing a logical pattern of protest and resignation. He also raises some audience laughter in a joke Shakespeare might have picked-up from Nicholas Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister (the first known English comedy?); by pausing at the wrong point in each line as he introduces the Mechanicals’ Play he spins its meaning through 180 degrees. Like several Shakespeare word-jokes it rarely seems to be picked-up by audiences, but it is here.

As is Bottom’s verbal humour. Dean Nolan’s enthusiastic weaver makes his synaesthetic wonderment plain as can be for modern audiences, expressing the logical illogicality of what has happened to him. After a long pause seeking inspiration, he can only label his attempted recall of events as ‘Bottom’s Dream.

These Mechanicals’ well-judged mix of self-satisfaction and nerves are part of a fresh, never over-emphatic production. Some cuts by director Nick Bagnall – especially around Duke Theseus’s reflections on lunatics, lovers and poets – are regrettable, especially as Garry Cooper’s strong performance is crucial. His suited smartness as Theseus makes him like Dorian Gray, his woodland Oberon the portrait in the attic, a hunched, watchful and cunning troll, alongside Sharon Duncan-Brewster’s showily energetic Titania.

Alan Stocks is a finely-characterised Egeus, his daughter Hermia and her friend/rival Helena schoolgirls in grey uniforms, about to enter their own lives; their lovers are similarly dressed in schoolboy kit. Finally, they wear colourful clothes expressing themselves, as designer Ashley Martin-Davis’s black-and-white, mirrored world, is cleared of the rubbish that has clogged its surface and the story of the night liberates its often-unwitting participants.

Francis Flute/1st Fairy: Lewis Bray.
Theseus/Oberon: Garry Cooper.
Helena: Emma Curtis.
Hippolyta/Titania: Sharon Duncan-Brewster.
Puck: Cynthia Erivo.
Robin Starveling/Moth: Michael Hawkins.
Hermia: Charlotte Hope.
Nick Bottom: Dedan Molan.
Peter Quince/Peaseblossom: Andrew Schofield.
Egeus/Tom Snout/Cobweb: Alan Stocks.
Lysander: To Varey.
Demetrius: Matt Whitchurch.
Snug/Mustardseed: Ozzie Yue.

Director: Nick Bagnall.
Designer: Ashley Martin-Davis.
Lighting: Peter Mumford.
Sound: Peter Rice.
Composer: James Fortune.
Movement consultant: Grace Goulding.
Fight director: Roger Bartlett.
Assistant director: Chris Tomlinson.

2015-03-29 12:05:21

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