ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT based on Midsummer Nights Dream, Moon Fool and Trestle on tour to 26th March 2010
Review Mark Courtice on 10th March 2010 at Salisbury Arts Centre.
Running time 1 hour, no interval
Royal couple overstay their welcome
Given that Shakespeare dispatches the story of Oberon and Titania in less than a third of a play, it does raise the question as to the point of revisiting it for the duration of a whole hour. So, although this is a short show, it seems to go on for rather along time.
The conceit is that the regal pair and Puck replay the story of their row nightly. Shakespeare put their domestic spat into context, so as fairy royalty falls out the rest of the world (and particularly the mortal world of the court and forest) runs out of kilter. Here all the matter is the row over the orphan boy – shown as a sort of variety show.
Moon Fool come from a background with the Polish theatres Gardzienice and Song of the Goat so they bring a particular sensibility to the job, combining physicality, music, and a robust acting style.
The whole is stage-managed by Peter Swaffer-Reynolds’ Puck who also provides the musical impetus, with central European folky/jazzy music and modish soundscapes on a stage littered with instruments (there is a clever moment when a drum, lit from inside, reminds us of the moon, and Puck’s girdled world) and costumes. As our conductor into the world of the play he is more mysterious than charming – growling and prowling even while he asks our indulgence for the play.
All the performances are based on a confident physicality. Anna-Helena McLean‘s Titania, sleek and silver costumed wraps herself round Christopher Silvertsen‘s Oberon. He’s always on the move, gymnastic, animal. When he is Bottom he loses his shirt, and in his vest betrays his baser animal nature in a braying vocal tic. There isn’t a huge amount of room for subtlety here, but it’s riveting.
The economical setting is backed a pair of aged velvet curtains, and there is some classy lighting from Paul Colley, but as Puck packs up his suitcase of memories and we all go home there isn’t much we didn’t know before, and as in the case of the regal tiff, not much has moved on.
Performer/Musician/Deviser: Anna-Helena McLean, Christopher Sivertsen, Peter Swaffer-Reynolds.
Director & Dramaturg: Ian Morgan.
Designer: Katherina Radeva.
Lighting Designer: Paul Colley.