A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Offspringers at the Cramphorn Theatre
Shakespeare 4 Kidz has been sugar-coating the Bard for years, and their shows have become increasingly popular with youth groups like Offspringers.
As recent Dreams go, Sarah Dodsworth's production is agreeably traditional in tone. Pretty fairies, Athenian columns, stylish white trees. Excellent costumes, and some striking stage pictures: the back-lit bubbles, the top-lit quartet with the fairies thronging round their feet. The band – in a bower of their own – accompanies the Disney-ish songs [MD Kate Gowen]. The plot – arranged marriage and all – survives more or less intact, and the Indian Boy [Dominic Bushell] is given a whole production number for his back-story. Some of the “rhymes from yesterday” are preserved too, and the original verse for the scene and the song for Bluebell [Charlotte Golden] and Rose Gowen's pert Puck is one of the best moments.
A huge cast – some of them very small sprites – includes the Tipsy Bacchanals and the [thrice] three Muses, and some very promising performances. Ore Kane is an imposing Duke Theseus, Jack Funnell a mischievous Lysander, with Charlotte Podd his Hermia. The mechanicals, with their “tacky play”, all give splendidly engaging performances – Matt Scott is the wittiest weaver in town, Max Eagle a bossy Quince, with Esther Hemmings a lovely Lion, Abbie Gansbuehler the tinker, Amy Smethurst the tailor and James Birchmore doing some serious breast-imbruing as Thisbe.
Lively movement, impressive ensemble work, and a shared sense of fun for this, the most accessible of Shakepeare's comedies. Very much enjoyed by the first- night audience. But, if the work is to appeal to a public beyond friends and family, every one of these enthusiastic actors needs to remember the importance of concentration and staying in character.