Festival Shakespeare Company, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Review in Issue 21-3 | Autumn 2009

As a prelude to Wimbledon, strawberries and rain, you can’t beat Brighton Fringe, Shakespeare in the park and… rain.

Slipping and sliding their way though this fairy feast, Festival Shakespeare Company, directed by Claire Raftery of Periplum, gave an imaginative performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The highly stylised opening saw the cast make their entrance from different directions, genuflecting before their Lord and Lady. This gave way to an energetic show, with the cast running hither and thither, using bicycles and making use of the park to best advantage. There were wonderful performances from the young actors playing the Lovers / Rude Mechanicals – Tom Champ (Lysander), David Robson (Demetrius), Maria Pullen (Helena) and Kitty Newbury (Hermia) – with marvellous comic turns from Matt Beaumont as Bottom and a pair of Pucks (one dressed in black and one in white; one large, one slight, one male, one female). Unfortunately these energised performances left some of the other players overshadowed, and more could have been made of the characters of Titania and Oberon.

The cast had their umbrellas at the ready, used in wonderfully choreographed mock battles between Oberon and Titania’s fairy aides, masked in coloured scarves; to hypnotise star-crossed lovers; and finally, as befits their original function, as shelter! Just into the second half, as the four lovers lay in a stupor brought on by our two Pucks, and Bottom gave into Titania’s power, rain obliged the removal of the lights and possibly the end of our play.

But the audience cheer wildly – of course, we don’t know the ending, the show must go on. Bravely it did so, in the semi-dark, for some time more, till torrential rain finally stopped play, and Theseus announced an early finale.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
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St Anne’s Well Gardens

Date Seen
  1. May 2009

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-3
p. 32