Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Romance? Check. Great music? Check. Mischief and mayhem? Laugh-out loud hilarity? Special effects? Yes, yes, yes to everything. This production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream transported me somewhere magical for two hours.
The action began outside, continued inside St Mary’s Church and soon, as our young lovers departed for the fairy-filled woodlands outside Athens, headed for the leafy, idyllic vicarage grounds.
I felt instantly I was carried to another time and place. The combination of the natural setting, the folky, earthy live music and the otherworldly costumes seemed to connect me to something ancient. And we really were connected to something very old—the ancient art of playmaking, brought alive again in our historic town on a cool May afternoon.
Of an exceptionally strong cast, praise must go to Francesco La Rocca’s Bottom (you didn’t think I’d resist that pun, did you?), a performance that channelled all the great camp comics of our time, from Kenny Everett to Frankie Howerd.
As the Athenian lovers, Robyn La Rocca, Carl James Fowler, Kirsty Taylor and Craig Sharkey seemed to have boundless energy for some very well-choreographed scenes as they fought and frolicked in the woods. (After all that rolling around on the forest floor, the laundry department had an unenviable task between performances.)
When a play provides such unabashed escapism, it is vital to avoid an anticlimax and leave the audience on the right note.
The final moments, happily, were both wistful and haunting, the company of fairies departing, the band playing the Everly Brothers’ All I Have to Do Is Dream softly in the background, and Rachael Reason’s Puck sealing the atmosphere in her delivery of the final monologue, ending: “Give me your hands, if we be friends, and Robin shall restore amends.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream brings together a community cast and crew with a professional team from MATE Productions, in partnership with Shakespeare North and the RSC Open Stages programme.
Remaining performances in Prescot are at 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Sunday 31 May and 7.30pm on Saturday 6 June. It then tours:
- Sunday 21 June 2.30pm & 7.30pm at St Nicholas’s Church Gardens, Halewood
- Sunday 2 August 12 noon at the Dell at the RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon
- Sunday 9 August 3pm at Woodlands Rest Home Gardens, Netherley
For more information, including how to book tickets, visit www.mateproductions.co.uk.
Photos: MATE Productions