Lazarus Theatre round off their highly successful residency at Greenwich Theatre with Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After Marlowe and Golding, Shakespeare feels like the next logical step, even if it can prove a little off-putting to modern audiences.
It’s slightly reminiscent of their previous production, The Lord of The Flies; the body paint and symbolic red palm print carrying through into Shakespeare’s five act comedy. But where Flies was filled with psychological angst, this new production sparkles with humour and reverie.
Shakespeare’s fairytale with four conjoining plots feels like a tall order to get through in a mere two hours, but it works exceptionally well. In the opening scene, we see the cast of characters in casual business attire, gathered around what appears to be a board room table, giving the impression of a modern re-telling; perhaps it will be set in a corporate office, I found myself wondering. But soon, we’re back to the settings we’re all familiar with.
Ricky Duke’s adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which he has also directed, moves at a much more agreeable pace, giving us all the good bits and allowing us to focus a little more on the characters, and the concept of love. Max Kinder’s Lysander is glorious, giving the enchanted, and love sick character a better depth. Jonathon George is equally as enjoyable as Demetrius, Elham Mahyoub gives a passionate and engaging performance as Hermia, while Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen gives Helena real strength.
Some of the best moments come from ‘The Mechanicals’, the troupe of amateur actors who will perform Pyramus and Thisbe, a play within the play. John Slade gives us a Peter Quince who we could watch all night, while David Clayton makes us long for Bottom to have more stage time. It is Tessa Carmody, gleefully prancing around stage as the mischievous Puck, who gets the most love from the audience, all whilst spreading bucket loads of colored confetti around the stage.
That brightly coloured paper helps give the staging texture, and Jamie Simmons design means the overall look of the production is magical. The oversized white balloon giving us a taster of the moon above the forest, and the twinkling lights representing the fairies leaves you feeling like you’ve been transported to another world.
This A Midsummer Night’s Dream captures the original work, giving added influence to the comedy elements. For Shakespeare aficionados this will be a wonderful adaptation of the original, and for everyone else, it’s a perfect way to enjoy a classic.