by William Shakespeare

Open Air Theatre Inner Circle Regent’s Park NW1 4NU To 5 September 2012.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 826 4242.
Review: William Russell 12 June.

Midsummer madness.
Of all the many Dreams that have been staged in Regent’s Park this production directed by Matthew Dunster is possibly the strangest. It is set in a caravan-cluttered building site where Athensfield shopping centre is being constructed by Oberon Developments, somewhere in Essex judging by the way everyone mangles the verse.

Theseus, the building site boss, is a thug with the razor scars to prove it, Hippolyta a distinctly reluctant battered bride, Puck a hoodie on a bike, and the fairies are four muscle men in cat suits, which pretty well sums it all up.

There are caravans, white vans, a crane which lifts one of the caravans into the air, a caravan which collapses and turns into a bank, where the wild plastic flowers bloom on a sea of Astroturf.

Designer Job Bausor has redone the stage so that it is a cement wilderness with a couple of ramps leading through the audience. It has to do duty for Open Air’s repertoire companion Ragtime – so has the crane – and is hideous.

The performances are straight out of My Big Fat Essex Gypsy Wedding, as are the wedding dresses at the end. The boys retch every time they mention the name of the one who is not the loved one, a joke which wears thin, the rude mechanicals do their play as a mini-musical to the inevitable karaoke numbers – ‘Jolene’, ‘YMCA’ – and manage to be not very funny in the process. Christopher Colquhoun, however, makes a splendid, statuesque Oberon and David Birrell is gloriously repellent as Theseus.

Dunster has a concept and sticks to it. The result is, at least, not one more case of togas, sandals and Attic prancing about, but it is misconceived. At the end Hippolyta does a runner with Bottom. She should have done it earlier.

Mustardseed: Stephen Aneli.
Flute: Rolan Bell.
Demetrius: Kingsley Ben Adir.
Theseus: David Birrell.
Philostrate: Louise Bowden.
Hippolyta: Katie Brayben.
Bottom: George Bukhari.
Titania: Tamsin Carroll.
Egeus: Anthony Clegg.
Oberon: Christopher Colquhoun.
Hermia: Hayley Gallivan.
Cobweb: Shimi Goodman.
Quince: Harry Hepple.
Moth: Waylon Jacobs.
Puck: Oliver Johnstone.
Snout: Kurt Kansley.
Peaseblossom: Joshua Lacey.
First Fairy: Mirela Mambo-Bokele.
Helena: Rebecca Oldfield.
Lysander: Tom Padley.
Snug: Carl Sanderson.
Starveling: Jo Servi.
Ensemble: Jamal Andreas, Sandra Marvin, Sophia Nomvete, Caroline Rovina.

Director: Matthew Dunster.
Designer: Jon Bausor.
Lighting: James Farncombe.
Sound: Nick Lidster & Ian Dickinson for Autograph.
Composer: Olly Fox.
Choreographer: Charlotte Broom.
Costume: Laura Hopkins.
Fight director: Kate Waters.
Associate director: Barbara Houseman.

2012-06-13 08:43:04

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