Theatre Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Camden Fringe Festival

A confident young cast stage a sexy 1920s take on Shakespeare.

Fringe festivals are a great place for new shows to hit the big time – or to flop.

But Natalie York, founder of the brand new Pell Mell Theatre Company and director of its debut performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, should have nothing but high hopes.

Performed in The New Diorama Theatre, one of the most intimate venues hosting the Camden Fringe, the play is a sexy 1920’s adaptation of the popular Shakespeare classic.

The cast is young but confident on stage and Matt Abercromby, who plays Lysander, and Rupert Ratcliffe, who plays Demetrius, give an especially impressive delivery of Shakespeare’s original lines fused with dramatic ambience straight out of the early 20th century.

A couple of feisty females create further magic in the play. Natalie Neagle is charming as the eager but self-doubting Helena, and Amba Jhala is enchanting as both Titania, the beautiful fairy, and Hippolyta the captivating aristocrat.

Such a small theatre can serve to encapsulate an audience if the acting is moderated or exclude an audience if it crosses a finely drawn line of dramatic excess. Most of the show sits on the right side of the line, but there are occasional slips where the action on stage is a little too much.

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When the entire cast breaks into nearly three minutes of song and dance, a definite break develops between the silly performers and their uncomfortable observers.

However, these details always need ironing out with practice and this debut act is certain to make a return.

* Shown at the Camden Fringe Festival, New Diorama Theatre, Triton Street, Regents Place, NW1, from August 1-7.

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