A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Rose Theatre, Kingston – theatre review

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Credit: Archant

The summer holidays may have come to an end, but that did not matter to the audiences who attended The Globe Theatre’s touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Rose Theatre in Kingston earlier this month.

Director, Dominic Dromgoole’s much anticipated re-working of The Globe Theatre’s award-winning 2013 production of Shakespeare’s comedy was a visual delight. Authentic costumes were complemented perfectly by Jonathan Fensome’s simple set, which switched neatly between Theseus’ court and an Athenian forest with the use of curtains, logs and branches held by fairy cast members that brought the enchanted glade to life.

The cast, too, adapted a traditional approach, yet with a sharp 21st-century take added to several of the acerbic asides. Parallels were firmly drawn between the human and fairy protagonists throughout, with key roles doubled up to good effect. Theseus and Oberon were both played with authority by Aden Gillett, while Janie Dee brought a spirited, yet sympathetic air to both Hippolyta and fairy queen, Titania. The four lovers played their parts attractively and raised many laughs as they stumbled through their frustrating night of enchantments and mistaken love.

A night made so much more frustrating by the playful Molly Logan, bringing fun, energy and impish charm to the mischievous Puck. She and the rest of the fairies waiting on their king and queen added a delightful touch of magic and feather-light humour, which weaved itself throughout the play.

However, the main comedy of the night came courtesy of the band of mechanicals - rough players rehearsing for their play being presented at Theseus and Hipployta’s wedding. The final scene of the evening relies on a well-timed delivery of the hapless mechanicals’ doomed wedding day performance, and the team played this hilarious scene flawlessly. Stand-out performances here included Trevor Fox as the bombastic Nick Bottom, and Steffan Donnelly as Francis Flute, whose portrayal of the tragic Thisbe, complete with wild wig, feminine wiles and full ladies’ underskirts brought tears to the eyes.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream ran at The Rose Theatre from 5 to 7 September 2014 and is currently on tour.