A Midsummer Night's Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Howard Salinger
21 - 24 June 2006
Abbey Theatre, St Albans
30 June - 1 July 2006
Waterside Theatre, Stratford upon Avon
11 - 15 July 2006
Trestle Arts Base, St Albans
A Midsummer Night's Dream needs no introduction. It is probably Shakespeare’s most famous and popular play, performed year in, year out the world over. The Dream gives the audience a sense of wonder and belief that many other accomplished writers have tried to emulate ever since.
This production was set in a nursery where the human characters are toys – the playthings of the fairies, with whom they weave their magic and mischief. What better way to capture the innocence and wonder of the play than to appeal to the child within us all?
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A magical and uplifting production
21st June 2006
Click here to read the review.
Toying with the Bard
29th June 2006
THE prospect of seeing A Midsummer Night's Dream again only a few weeks after watching an open-air production was, I confess, not particularly welcome.
But I came away from the Abbey Theatre Studio full of praise for the version by St Albans drama group OVO which was one of the best Shakespearean productions I have seen in a long while.
It wasn't just the inspired decision by director Howard Salinger to set it in a nursery or the calibre of the actors, it was the overall impact of the production which was so enjoyable.
Everyone knows the three tales which make up A Midsummer Night's Dream - the lovers in the woods, the "rude mechanicals" and their play Pyramus and Thisbe, and the fairy kingdom of Oberon and Titania.
Get all three right and you have a good show - and OVO succeeded in hitting the jackpot.
From the first moment that all the characters tripped out of the toy cupboard, it was clear the audience was in for a treat. It was like a scene from Toy Story and entirely appropriate for the play.
All four of the lovers - Claire McMeel as Hermia, Will Franklin as Lysander, Edmund White as Demetrius and Anna McLeod as Helena - were on fine form. Their scenes in the wood where Puck has inadvertently mixed up the love potions were especially impressive and Anna in particular was exceptionally good.
The sexual chemistry between the leather-clad David Widdowson as Oberon and Jill Priest as Titania was palpable and their excellent performances were matched by Matt Jeffs as probably the dumbest Puck ever but undeniably one of the funniest.
A Midsummer Night's Dream can stand and fall on the performance of the mechanicals but OVO's team did not put a foot wrong. Adam Nichols as a toy policeman was a perfect Bottom, with and without the ass's head, and he was well matched by Julie Grant's lovelorn Quince in a tutu and Simon Nicholas as a piratical Starveling.
It was a clever idea to bring together some of the most loved characters in the toy box to put on Pyramus and Thisbe for Theseus, his bride Hippolyta and the two sets of young lovers.
Theseus - Paul de Burton
Hippolyta - Sara Nicholas
Egeus - David Berryman
Philostrate - Charles Aitken / Nicky Binning
Hermia - Claire McMeel
Helena - Anna McLeod
Lysander - Will Franklin
Demetrius - Ed White
Oberon - David Widdowson
Titania - Jill Priest
Puck - Matt Jeffs
Mustardseed - Jo Emery
Cobweb - Neil MacLeod
Peaseblossom - Hayley Pullen
Quince - Julie Grant
Bottom - Adam Nichols
Flute - Andy Pinder
Snout - Dan Warren / Howard Salinger
Snug - Sue Dyson
Starveling - Simon Nicholas
Director - Howard Salinger
Assistant Director - Julie Grant
Musical Director - Charles Aitken
Stage Manager - Stuart Goaman
Lighting Designer - Phil Hamilton
Sound - Ashley Nicholas
Set Design and Construction - Simon Nicholas
Scenic Artists - Julie Grant, Andy Pinder
Costume - Imogen de la Bere, Sara Nicholas, Jill Priest
Properties - Judy Curd
Publicity and Programme Designer - Adam Nichols
Photography - Sean Mackenzie, Simon Nicholas, Pete Stevens
Media and PR Co-ordinator - Lisa White
Bar Manager - Toby Nichols