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Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Courtyard Theatre

The course of true love never did run smooth…


Some people are terrified of Shakespeare, others are fascinated by his use of language. Yesterday evening’s performance of A Midsummers Night’s Dream was definitely the latter.

Not only did it truly live up to the comical nature of the play, it also gave joviality and vivacity to the intimate setting. A performance carried out with the audience surrounding the stage, including what seemed to be a maypole planted in the centre meant that the audience was completely immersed from beginning to end.

There was a shaky start with audible conversations in modern English and 50s jive music playing in the background – it made the whole environment a bit unnerving. However when the play kicked in, it really kicked. There was exquisite use of lighting that transformed us with ease from the magical world into the mortal.

The play was advertised as “a play with music,” I personally found this a bit distracting and overbearing when I was trying to hear actors say their lines. Despite that, the range of instruments varied and really helped bring the piece alive.

The actors playing Helena, Puck and Bottom gave really stood out from the pack. Naomi Bullock (Helena) was amazing and completely empathised with her character, especially during the short monologue of Call You Me Fair. Natalie Lipin (Puck) utterly enveloped her spritely character. She graced the stage with agility, playfulness and a beautiful singing voice to match.

Timothy Skelton (Bottom) wholeheartedly stole the show. His career has spanned a long stint in the RAF and although not an experienced actor, he became Bottom with hilarity and definitely owned the stage that had the audience roaring with laughter.

Luckily, there was also some very nice eye candy within the play. Henry Wryley-Birch (Demetrius) was stunning with a John Travolta in Grease-esque look. Furthermore Benedict Chambers (Lysander) had a boyish charm.

Danny Solomon (Oberon/Theseus) was the polar opposite with a deep booming voice oozing authority over the stage. Anthony Pinnick (Thisbe/Francis Flute) still managed the boy-next-door look whilst wearing a skirt for the majority of the play.

Final words: a great show that would have made the bard himself proud. It was hilariously funny and beautifully performed, a mesmerising evening with a genuinely talented cast.

The show runs until 7 September 2014. Tickets are available online from thecourtyard.org.uk or the box office on 0844 477 1000. Ticket start £12.

Follow the team on Twitter at @Midsummers2014 and @RoseBridgeCo.

Words Matt Peake, @matt_peake

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