A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Headlong Theatre and the Nuffield Southampton, in association with Hull Truck at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
A near faultless cast of ten covered all the characters, though poor old Quince [David Shaw-Parker] had to be the voice of Wall, Moon and Lion in Pyramus and Thisbe, since Starveling [Wardrobe Assistant] and the rest were nowhere to be seen. The result was predictably hilarious, with Michael Dylan's Flute a splendid Thisbe - “How will I live ?” she ad libs, stealing Hippolyta's line from lost blockbuster “Where The Wild Thyme Blows”. Christopher Logan was a memorable Bottom, flouncing and slightly fey, with more than a hint of dark depths below the surface.
The lovers were given wonderful fights and chases, even a balcony scene – Faye Castelow especially fine as a feisty Hermia. Justin Avoth's Oberon was beautifully spoken – elsewhere the approximate accents were sometimes a distraction. Not so for Sandy Grierson's superb Puck. Perched on his chair, with notebook and pipe [lots of smoking in this show], he seemed to be planning his mischief, and his cynical, caustic comments caught the mood exactly.
There was no shortage of magic, mayhem or mirth in this two-hour comedy. Even the fairies, with their cowboy outfits, were strangely effective. But, as the commendably informative programme points out, the play is on the National Curriculum, and the half-term matinée I saw was well attended by students of all ages. And I did wonder if this imaginative interpretation, “more strange than true” perhaps, might be a tad confusing for first-time wanderers in the wood near Athens.