Theatre review: Shakespeare with gusto

Midsummer Nights Dream at Courtyard N1

Midsummer Nights Dream at Courtyard N1 - Credit: Archant

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Adam Morris, is a playful and lively awakening of Shakespeare’s classic – even if it does not take risks with originality.

Shakespeare’s comedy is performed faithfully and with gusto. We chase after the tangled loves of four young Athenians lost in the forest: Helena who loves Demetrius who loves and is betrothed to Hermia, who in turn loves and is beloved by Lysander. Always ahead of us is the mischievous Puck, playing with potent love potions, and leading the weary lovers hither and thither.

Performing in the round, all four lovers brought a high energy, building up as the comedy turns into farce and panting declarations of love. Naomi Bullock, playing Helena, grimaced and pouted beautifully to all corners of the audience. Henry Wyrley-Birch, playing Demetrius, came into his own later in the play, as an effeminate caricature of a wounded lover, chasing his own tail.

Interspersed with modern music and swing dance, there is constant fun and frolics. Puck in particular, played by Natalie Lipin, is excellent; light-handed and cheeky, causing trouble with a dimpled smile. The dance-like movements of the fairies kept them distinct from the mere mortals, adding to the sense of their trespass in our world, spreading havoc and disorder.

The painted signs on stage welcome us to an English suburb, although for most part, the setting is irrelevant. The backdrop is brought to life during the rehearsals of the play-within-a-play; Pyramus and Thisbe which is performed for the nuptials of the young lovers. Rachel Dobell plays the play’s director, Peter Quince. In a glorious celebration of the brilliance and pettiness of amateur dramatics, she gathers her motley crew with nervous twitches and pearls.

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This is a lively, laugh-out loud production. It may not offer a striking artistic vision, but it brings together music, dance, parties and dreams, for a great night out.

Three stars

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