A Midsummer Night’s Dream

August 12, 2015 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆    Swift & dynamic

TheSpace on Niddry Street (Venue 9): Fri 7 – Sat 29 Aug 2015

An energetic and effervescent force runs through Gin and Tonic Productions take on one of Shakespeare’s most imaginative and delightful comedies. 

A small dedicated cast and a minimal set that is devoid of many of the usual fripperies, mean that the success of the production bravely rests on the quality of the acting alone.

Sarah Lamb as Helena. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Sarah Lamb as Helena. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

And one thing for sure, is that the quality of acting from Gin and Tonic Productions is very high. It’s not easy to distil A Midsummer Night’s Dream into a mere 60 minutes and while it may have slightly run over, there definitely weren’t any complaints.

The four interconnecting plot lines of A Midsummer Night’s Dream weave a play about love, jealousy, mischief and obsession. There’s an Athenian wedding, a play devised by a company of actors to perform at the wedding, a disagreement over an intended betrothal and a disagreement among fairies.

In the forest, Oberon, King of the Fairies and Puck, his servant, set about a playful manipulation of their fellow fairies, the actors and the Athenians.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is all about contrasts – humans and fairies, day and night. Clever direction by Elske Waite ensures that there is a clear distinction between the human and fairy realms, despite them often coexisting within the same square stage.

clever casting

The initial distinction between the two realms is magnificent – none more clearly represented than through Brian Gilbert who plays both Egeus and Puck. The former is stern and straight-laced forbidding his daughter to marry the man that she loves, the latter is lithe and acrobatic, gracefully gliding across the stage as he playfully manipulates.

In fact, many of the actors take on multiple roles within the production. It is precisely this clever casting that perpetuates the differences between realms rather than confusing it. For example, Jonathan Ip and Esmee Cook play both Theseus and Hippolyta, the Duke of Athens and his betrothed, and Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the fairies with a discernible distinction despite playing fundamentally similar character roles.

The comedy element is certainly not missing from this production. Of course the Mechanicals – the acting troupe set on entertaining at the Duke of Athens’ wedding – provide a wonderful almost slapstick-style comedy to the proceedings, with Joe McArdle taking the boisterous lead and happy to act the ass as Bottom. However, an unexpected favourite is also Sarah Lamb’s portrayal of Helena, playing the character with a wonderful sarcastic wit.

Overall, this is a confident, assured and energetic performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But there was a sense that it could be even better still with a little more time to play with.

Running time: 1 hour
TheSpace on Niddry Street (Venue 9) Niddry Street, EH1 1TH
Friday 7 – Saturday 29 August
Daily (not Sundays): 10pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/midsummer-night-s-dream-4
Gin and Tonic Productions website: ginandtonicproductions.wordpress.com

ENDS

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