A Midsummer Night's Dream

"A Midsummer Night’s Dream" by Flabbergast Theatre, presents a spectacle that is the most Shakespearean performance I have seen, though intriguingly, the programme notes make no mention of the Bard himself. Depending on your perspective of 'pure Shakespeare,' you may either revel in this rendition or find it slightly cluttered. It seems to be the unabridged version of the play, which might test the patience of the young, or modern theatregoers towards the end.

Wilton's Music Hall provides a stunning backdrop, drawing in an intimate audience. The stage is adorned with a semi-modern trailer, reminiscent of those used by Commedia dell'arte troupes. Decorated with plants and props, it sets the scene for a whimsical journey into Shakespeare's world.

The pre-show hubbub sees the cast engaging with the audience, setting the tone for what's to come. Directorial choices by Henry Maynard are evident from the outset, with a blend of mask work and physical clowning adding a distinctive dynamic to the performance. The Mechanicals wear masks, while the lovers are natural, and fairies are portrayed through puppeteered skulls, which, despite sounding dark, are surprisingly enchanting.

Lennie Longworth shines as Robin Goodfellow, infusing the role with quirky physicality, she weaves her way through the other performers, climbing on them, standing on shoulders and hanging upside down from Oberon at points. However, Krystian Godlewski's portrayal of Oberon, at times masked and at others not, along with the post-interval introduction of kangaroo stilts, feels somewhat disjointed.

The versatile cast of eight effortlessly embodies multiple characters, with fairies brought to life through puppetry, each with their own distinctive voice. The Duke commands attention as a towering masked figure, his booming voice amplified and echoing by a microphone and some comedic echoes too.

While the lack of microphones for all characters may at points reduce the clarity, especially given the complexity of Shakespearean language, it does not overshadow the overall performance. Despite some risqué humour in tight fitting clothing, this production appeals to lovers of all forms of theatre and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike. With slight adjustments, it could easily find success beyond its current venue, captivating audiences in schools, festivals and other settings too.

This show was reviewed on the 10th April at Wilton's Music Hall where it runs until the 20th April 2024.  Tickets are available here: A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Wilton's (wiltons.org.uk)

Review written by Valentine Gale-Sides


Photo credit: Michael Lynch

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