A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Theatre at Baddow at the Village Hall
Puck and the fairies are frequently female; Dawn French was a wonderful Bottom a few years back. But a quartet of lesbian lovers – “Jill shall have Jill” - is surely a first, just one of the fresh ideas in Jim Crozier's updated Dream.
No such liberalism in the Athenian trade guilds, though, where the rude mechanicals – a plumber and a brickie now in their ranks – are all blokes. The patriarchal society that allows Peter Nerreter's fine Egeus to invoke the “law strictly provided”, even in equal marriage, shows no sign of softening.
Modern dress all round, with colourful Romany-themed garb for the fairy denizens of the Athenian wood. Modern music too, with a nice original score from Owain Jones, and Daft Punk for the boom-box bergamasque.
The hard-working cast includes Barry Taylor's compelling, stylish Oberon, Diane Johnston 's Titania enthusiastically lusting after Bob Ryall's Bottom, with his lecherous bray. Natalie Patuzzo makes an entertaining teenage Puck, high-fiving the audience and radiating mischief. Liam Mayle stands out in the theatricals – an amusingly thespian Thisbe. Nicholas Milenkovic makes a poised, polished Philostrate.
The lovers are never an easy call, and there is little fun in their misadventures here – some strong performances, though, with good verse speaking from Mabel Odonkor's Lysanda in particular.
Moonshine's back-pack dog, Flute's smartphone, the disco dancing, the factory hooter and the car horn, the moody fairies and the torn leggings – all evidence of a fertile imagination and a desire to please a 21st century audience. But pointless pauses and lacklustre delivery tend to impede “the passion of loud laughter” in this otherwise interesting and entertaining Dream.