I'm a big fan of Shakespeare, and it was something of a surprise to realise, a few months ago, that I have never seen a live performance of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. I did see the TV production which the BBC did earlier this year, which I enjoyed, but the story was so familiar I had to stop and think to work out that I really *hadn't* seen it before! I think perhaps because the story pervades so many works of literature it is part of my mental furniture despite not having watched it on stage before!
This production was at the Bath Theatre Royal, as part, fittingly, of their summer season, and features comedian Phill Jupitus , in his first Shakespearean role, as Bottom.
It's an interesting, and successful, bit of casting. Bottom came across as a having (misplaced) confidence in his own theatrical skills, and was, in the final scenes, gloriously indifferent to the difference between laughing at, and laughing with, as the Duke and his court enjoyed the play. And in his scenes with Titania he portrayed Bottom's self-importance and ridiculousness beautifully.
As a whole, I enjoyed the production, and the rude mechanicals' play was hilarious. I was less convinced by the costume choice for Puck - he appeared naked except for a loin cloth and a lot of blue paint, but unfortunately the bulkiness and mismatch between the blue of the cloth and the paint meant he ended up looking rather like he was wearing a nappy...
Darrell D'Silva and Katy Stephens played dual roles - Theseus / Oberon and Hippolyta / Titania, which worked well - D'Silva had an excellent line in restrained power, both as ruler of Athens and King of the fairies.
The lovers, Hermia (Eve Ponsonby) and Lysander (William Postlethwaite) and Helena (Maya Wasowicz) and Demetrius (Wilf Scolding) were excellent - Lysander was presented as something of a hipster, with Demetrius distinctly more buttoned up and formal, although both ended up nearly naked once the fairies were finished with them - the only part which was hard to believe was that Helena was spurned by Demetrius - she was a much more striking and appealing character than Hermia!
I should like to see other productions and see how they compare
The production has now ended in Bath, I'm not sure if it is touring elsewhere.
I regret that I haven't been able to get to see the version of 'Dream' at the Globe, as I've heard very good things about it, and I will be looking out for another production to see, as I was left feeling a little underwhelmed by this one!