A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Brentwood Shakespeare Company and Ingatestone and Fryerning Dramatic Club
In the bosky brakes of Ingatestone Hall, a Dream that mingled the traditional and the iconoclastic. A large cast included many seasoned players, and Lisa Matthews' production for the Brentwood Arts Festival was not short of ideas.
Not least the attempt to get back to the spirit of Shakespeare's playhouse; indeed this could easily have been a [generously funded] troupe of itinerant actors pitching up at the Tudor Hall with a rough grasp of the drama, a trunk of assorted costumes and a dog or two to steal the odd scene. Hence their panic, perhaps, when Quince [Keith Morgan] mentions “tomorrow night”, and hence, for some, their shaky acquaintance with the text.
Breeze and aircraft are a challenge to the actor [though the vintage planes made a change from the police helicopters that plague Shakespeare's Globe]. Not everyone was audible all the time. Most successful in this regard were Elliott Porte's Theseus, and Nik Graham's amusingly narcissistic Lysander. And the scene between Sarah Thomson's Fairy and Chrissie O'Connor's charismatic Irish Puck was a model of crispness and clarity.
Assured comedy performances from David Lintin in his Del Boy Bottoms Up t-shirt, Ian Russell as an initially coy, later histrionic Flute, and June Fitzgerald as a lovely cuddly Snug the Lion. The lovers' spat was nicely done, and the fairies had some spectacular choreography to the eclectic score.
Chris Burr's acting edition [in the trim-and-rewrite tradition of the 18th and 19th century Shakespeareans] sets the action in prehistoric Britain [though the lovers looked pretty Athenian to me], and Mark Godfrey's blokish “Sandman” Oberon has some rough magick of his own; a pity, though, to rob Puck of her valediction for the sake of some Wiccan silliness ...